“Must” is the first word Thibault Delférière writes on a large cloth at the back of the stage, before continuing to drag a square weight around by two ropes. The Camel – directed by Jack McNamara as part of a trilogy of shows collectively titled The Spirit – is an exercise in endurance.
The Belgium live artist delineates the show into de facto chapters, each marked by the writing of a new word. The different parts include ‘Share’, in which he precariously slices a shiny green apple originally suspended from a fishing wire and then offers the pieces to the audience, and ‘Build’, where he gradually constructs a geometrical free-standing sculpture from the assorted DIY-appropriate pieces of equipment placed around the stage space.
Accompanying all his movements is Guiseppe Lomeo’s looping, gently tripping improvised soundtrack created using a guitar and, often, a violin bow to play the strings.
Threaded throughout is the notion of toil with no reward – a point made clear in Delférière’s closing speech (the only words spoken in an otherwise non-verbal piece). It would be easy to link the visceral sense of an endless fight to move the body to the performer’s own cerebral palsy. But the work’s overall point transcends just being relevant to the lived experience of disability; it’s a fundamental interrogation of all human lives.
And although the piece better depicts intense struggle resulting in extremely minor pay-offs than the all-out nihilism of its ending, it’s an intriguing introduction to the trilogy.