Anna Vnuk Stages Cats!/Twice Read, Purcell Room, London

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The Independent Culture

While there is no doubt as to the general comic intent, there's a lurking doubt that Vnuk's stance is 100 per cent ironic. The leaden awfulness of her poems, the rueful references to biological clocks and lost opportunities, suggest that Anna Vnuk Stages Cats! springs from severe personal crisis. This means for the spectator that for every laugh there is a twinge of guilt, and that makes for an interesting balance of feeling.

The duet by Anton Lachky and Eulalia Ayguade that began the evening was also partly about cats, but of the big-game variety. Twice Read (a poor title) explores the realm of movement where muscles react to the prompting of nerves. Lachky and Ayguade have tried to get under the skin of wild animals - their reactiveness, their speed and power, and even their particular modes of moving.

Crouched on all fours, they remind us of the way a cheetah will slightly retract its body before advancing, the slow-mo muscular control, the correlation between shoulder and paw. Later, with the same miraculous unison, the pair scamper like panicked monkeys, twitch and butt like wildebeest, wriggle and dart fishily, peck like birds. Both as an experiment in feral-ness and an exercise in dance, it is technically and imaginatively superb.

jenny.gilbert@independent.co.uk

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