So, farewell then. The Featherstonehaughs. A funny name for a bunch of dancing boys. A hard name to spell. A harder name to say. Almost as hard as the Cholmondeleys.
A scene from Edits by The Featherstonehaughs at Riverside Studios, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
For 27 years the Fs and the Cs have been entertaining us with their singular brand of dancing postures, their strange, sinister and funny shows that have been half ballet/half human art installation. Now, founder Lea Anderson has decided to call it a day. These performances of Edits will be the last. And what a way to say goodbye.
Inspired by tiny shards of films, the piece is a series of snapshots, as if snippets of celluloid have been put back together willy-nilly. Dressed in a series of sensational gowns, designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell, the beautiful boys play out vignettes behind and in front of a trio of picture frames. The green velvet dress and red wig worn by Neil Callaghan (and others) conjures the spirit of Scarlett O’Hara - the gold gown invokes Marilyn Monroe. Yet nothing is obvious - all is allusive.
The Featherstonehaughs is the only company which can be funny, sensual and sinister at the same time. The company members’ control of physique, body language and facial expressions is at times close to Kabuki and their split-second timing allows for a sudden cartwheel when you least expect it. The epilogue in which Anderson herself performs with two of the Cholmondeleys brings a lump to the throat.
Surreal, camp and altogether unique, the boys and girls of Lea Anderson’s complementary troupes have carved a niche in dance that is utterly without equal.
We are going to miss them more than we imagine.