Because We Care, The Place, London

2.00

 

Dancers Colin Poole and Simon Ellis, who make up the company Colin, Simon & I, spend Because We Care testing each other. They shuffle into each other’s personal space, pushing through rivalries and power struggles. Poole and Ellis focus on the clashes, but don’t develop them.

The two men start by sitting at opposite sides of the stage, both in dressed in white shirts, shorts and flip flops. They move an extra chair to the middle of the stage, unpack a doll figure from a suitcase, and arrange it on the chair. As they take turns to adjust the doll, the mood turns competitive: making the pose more elaborate, angling the figure to one side or another.

Then they start rearranging each other, posing and placing human instead of doll limbs. The adjustments slide into a flat-out struggle, the two men wrestling on the ground. In this exploration of male friendship, the confrontations edge towards sex or violence. There’s a lot of panting as they shove and tussle. Poole stands on Ellis’s chest and stomach, moving around, seeing how much Ellis can stand. In a later scene, he orders him to bite, or lick, or dribble on him.

At one point, the men exchange reasons: “Because we care,” “Because we must”. As they come up with reasons, jokes keep creeping in: “Because you’re worth it”, “Because this is our favourite part”, “Because we care”, “Because we’re allowed to repeat ourselves”. They ramble, stumble over words, set up punchlines, tease each other. It’s the sharpest, most focused scene of the show.

Elsewhere, Poole and Ellis meander back over the same territory. They stop for a picnic, becoming relaxed and friendly as they set up and share out food and drink. Once they’ve eaten, they slide back to tussling. In a video sequence, we see a shared journey. Each man films himself in the car, with the two films played side by side.

Because We Care fixes on the moment where friendship becomes confrontation: who is in charge, who chooses, who decides. It doesn’t provide much context. Ellis and Poole don’t explore what draws these characters together, how they make sense of their struggles, why they end as they do. Though it’s about friendship, we don’t see what makes them friends.

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