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Marzo review at Barbican Centre, London – ‘savage and strange’

Dewey Dell's Marzo at Barbican Centre, London. Photo: Wolfgang Silveri Steirischer Herb
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For the Romans the month of March – named for Mars, the god of war – marked the start of the season of warfare, when winter had subsided and battle could commence.

Italian company Dewey Dell, in collaboration with Japanese artist Yuichi Yokoyama, have drawn on the dual meaning of Marzo, both the planet Mars and the month of March, to create this churning, rumbling beast of a show about conflict on a distant planet.

Something unnatural penetrates the piece. The movements look odd, the sound oppressively loud, the story disjointed and the language fractured. Yuichi Yokoyama’s costumes, particularly the masks, are both familiar and very strange, like cartoons incarnate.

The show is a bit 1980s in its palette of neon pinks, yellows and blues, and in its skin-tight Lycra costumes. But it’s also futuristic as two men (probably, the masks don’t give much away) fight over a woman (probably) on a bare extra-terrestrial landscape.

Marshmallow men arrive, squashy white figures inflated to the point of bursting. This could be something from CBeebies, a Teletubby-inspired creation, if it weren’t for the ear-piercing shrieks and throbs of the soundtrack. The inflated figures move with disconcerting precision, grace even, despite their resemblance to walking bouncy castles. It’s truly uncanny.

It’s impossible to say with much certainty what’s going on. There may be a love triangle, two men fighting over the same woman, but the meaning seems to come not from plot but from something primal: the violence and intimacy of the pas de deux both between the lovers and the rivals convey eroticism just as much as war, eliding the distance between the two. Whereas the Romans set love and war in opposition,

Dewey Dell force them to collide and the result is savage and fierce and really rather beautiful.


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Love and war collide on a distant planet in this very strange but oddly beautiful masked dance piece