Rambert-trained duo Daniel Hay-Gordon and Eleanor Perry – aka Thick and Tight – pull a blinder with their latest showcase of lip-syncing physical portraiture, so deft in its blend of parody and pathos.
Their opening vignette is a hilarious depiction of a double-headed Barbara Cartland, smeared with blue eyeshadow, a monster of self-regard and misogyny spouting plummy diatribes about the horror of women’s lib and the marvellousness of men. But there’s a quieter moment – though the voice rattles on – when this Cartland seems somehow at sea in her perpetual egotism. It’s these flashes of empathy and imaginative dexterity that enrich the high-camp satire.
Dancers Vidya Patel, Harry Alexander and Edd Arnold make brilliantly mercurial appearances as Churchill, Warhol and Dietrich respectively, the latter’s jazzy slinkiness soon rupturing into full-bodied rage to the stomping sound of Girl Band.
The rest of the evening is dedicated to Derek Jarman, marking the 25th anniversary of his death. In collaboration with Corali, a company of artists with learning disabilities, Hay-Gordon and Perry evoke a world of vital physicality and colour backed by a flickering Super 8 projection.
Then there’s the wonderful Gay Gardens, an imaginary encounter between Jarman and Proust, both shadowed by illness and enthralled by nature.
There are elements of wry comedy – Perry’s moustachioed Proust wanly contemplates a croissant while Hay-Gordon’s Jarman is reborn as Nijinsky’s famously onanistic faun. They visit a 1980s gay club, haunted by Thatcher. What lingers is a profound and proud sense of tenderness, encapsulated by the pair’s final, elegant dance together.