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 review at Barbican Centre – ‘clownish energy’

Euripides Laskaridis in Relic at Barbican, London. Photo: Evi Fylaktou
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With outlandishly outsized buttocks, Euripides Laskaridis sits on a chair, wearing teeteringly high heels. His beige bodysuit – which also covers his face – is the exaggerated epitome of countless male artists’ anatomical fantasies of women over the centuries.

Relic is a maddeningly roaming exploration of appearance. It’s making its UK premiere as part of London International Mime Festival, after initially opening in Barcelona in 2015.

Laskaridis is director and choreographer as well as performer. There’s a cartoon quality to his examination of gender and identity. He skitters around the stage, switching lights on and off, studying his reflection or hanging an empty picture frame. It’s like watching social codes splintering through a sketch show experiencing an existential breakdown.

The feedback-looped, mic’d up hiss of Kostas Michopoulos’ sound design is one of the stars of the show, spinning everything into strangeness. Its deliberate alienation marries well with Eliza Alexandropoulou’s freeze-frame lighting. They sharpen the slapstick absurdity of Laskaridis’ performance.

The automaton-like style of Laskaridis’ use (and abuse) of the various props scattered around the set – an overgrown child’s chaotic storeroom of history and culture – creates some surreally funny moments. But by the time he’s transformed into a belligerent gameshow host, unintelligibly yelling, the joke has worn thin.

Exposing how life is ultimately performative is fine. Laskaridis does this in countless ways. But his show doesn’t really take that anywhere. For all of its clownish energy, it’s too content just to show off what it can do.

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A surreally funny show that gets stuck in its own track