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Ponyboy Curtis: Vs review at the Yard Theatre, London – ‘vital and transfixing’

Ponyboy Curtis: Vs at the Yard Theatre, London. Photo: Paula Harrowing Ponyboy Curtis: Vs at the Yard Theatre, London. Photo: Paula Harrowing
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The latest show by Chris Goode’s queer performance collective, Ponyboy Curtis, takes the form of a challenge. Or, rather, a series of challenges. To the welter of toxic ideas about masculinity under capitalism, to the notion of theatrical experience as a commodity, and – with the show’s nudity and unsimulated sexual grappling – to the sensibilities of an audience, who necessarily become a voyeuristic presence.

The Ponyboys occupy a place in which masculinity is reconfigured and realised. At first, the space is bare save for a neat circle of folded clothes and shoes – lots of 1990s hipster sportswear and the occasional pair of backless underpants.

To Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, the performers engage in their own ritual of play and intimacy: they tear around the garment circle, chucking on items, stripping them off, lobbing them at each other. Memories of the ballet are evoked through sequences of jumping, gestural movement and processional formations.

But this is a very different fertility ritual, one in which heteronormative notions of virility and domination are replaced by tiny tender touches, hungry kisses, even communal wanking. Penises aside, what abounds is the romance that inheres within deep, unpossessive friendship. The Ponyboys, vulnerable and vigorous, create a fleetingly radical alternative to noxious patriarchy – recommended viewing for all adults.

 

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Verdict
Vital, transfixing and often nude challenge on patriarchal norms by a young male performance collective 
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