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Purposeless Movements at Tramway, Glasgow – ‘unflinching and inventive’

Pete Edwards, Colin Young and Laurence Clark in Purposeless Movements at Tramway, Glasgow. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic Pete Edwards, Colin Young and Laurence Clark in Purposeless Movements at Tramway, Glasgow. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
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Robert Softley Gale makes work which challenges taboos and preconceptions around disability. His show Purposeless Movements takes its name from the controversial term of diagnosis given to people with cerebal palsy. It’s a term which Softely Gale and his quartet of performers are swift to eschew: “These movements have intentions – to fight against my body”.

Each man has a gradation of the condition and they mischievously,translate what the other has just said. Every testimony bears witness to the well-meaning if condescending attitudes they face each day – from health care workers, from politicians. They stare out defiant at the audience, reclaiming terms like “spazz” and “wobbly.” Rachel Drazek’s robust, punky choreography mocks the tropes of group machismo: there’s arm wrestling, racing, and male model posturing, there’s flirting with the BSL interpreter Amy Cheskin.

Words like “brave” are also ridiculed, particularly within wheelchair-user Laurence Clark’s stand-up segment, where he rails against such labels and carries Cheskin on his back like a burden. As the gritty live music by Scott Twynholm and Kim Moore intensifies, so does the rage of each individual, only for them to then fall to the floor, helpless as the kittens projected on the screen behind them.

Given that it comes from the co-creator of hit sex comedy Wendy Hoose, this is a frank and at times filthy show, a fight for disabled men to be unabashed in their sexuality. The profane and profound comfortably co-exist. After all, as they quip, “the one word we can get out no problem is the F word”.

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Unflinching, inventive, and tender show challenging perceptions of disability and masculinity