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Candoco’s You and I Know review at Royal Festival Hall, London – ‘rich and vivid’

Joel Bown and Laura Patay in You and I Know at Royal Festival Hall, London. Photo: Camilla Greenwell
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A male/female duet that compresses an entire relationship into an expressive twenty minutes is far from an original concept. Yet choreographer Arlene Phillips manages to bring new toys for her two disabled dancers to play with in You and I Know.

He is a wheelchair-user, she is missing the lower half of her left arm. Together they convey the adrenaline zing of first rapture as she dances while he plays a guitar to his self-penned song Insecure Adolescence.

To a continuing soundtrack of modern pop songs they use the bare performance space, dressed with one table and a chair, to the max. She floats on his back as he wheels across the floor, their hands dance on the table top in an intimate exhibition of a larger physical embrace; hauling himself from his wheelchair to the table he manipulates his dangling legs as she parodies his movements – a gesture that is mischievous, funny and oddly tender.

When things turn sour, their actions become sharper, more violent. Anger spits from their eyes and bodies as they slap the table or thump their hearts with fists. Following a vicious slap in the face, the concluding rapprochement as she entwines herself around him and sits in his lap is well earned.

Part of the Southbank Centre’s Unlimited programme featuring new work from disabled artists, this is a little marvel of compression: strong, supple and sexy.

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A rich and vivid duet that distils a long-term relationship into 20 minutes