Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London, UK; April 21, 2015

Charlotte Kasner

Company Chameleon in Beauty of the Beast.  Photo Brian Slater

Company Chameleon in Beauty of the Beast.
Photo Brian Slater

Beauty of the Beast by Company Chameleon is a bit like an animated lads magazine, albeit one where the boys get in touch with their feminine side… and what lads they are.

They’ve certainly been pumping the iron, not least choreographer and artistic director Anthony Missen, who is a truly intimidating presence; and towards the end, Lee Clayden hauls two other dancers along on all fours and they really scare as pseudo-dogs.

The movement is eclectic and fluid. The piece just ebbs and flows, Bach providing some respite from the pounding, over-loud electronic muzak. They are not afraid to use their voices and make a fair stab at singing too. Every possible physical plane is explored with hints of street dance, contemporary dance and gymnastics. Missen just lifts two men by the middle of their shirts as if they were feathers. One is wrapped casually around his waist for an age then dropped with an audible thud.

Company Chameleon in 'Beauty of the Beast'. Photo Brian Slater

Company Chameleon in Beauty of the Beast.
Photo Brian Slater

Eryck Brahmania traverses the stage on his hands and toes and makes it look ridiculously easy, revenge for being put through the mill by the rest of the group with playground threats and bullying. (A far cry from seeing him dance Spartacus in Hong Kong).

They roar, they spar, they bond. They perform haunting solos then gang up again. One man lies on the stage and narrates a dream with all the bizarre logic that dreams have. There is no particular reason for it, no context. They move on. They move along. They move up and down and sideways. Duets burst like bubbles from the group to fade and die.

Street clothes are donned and stripped off. Dancers move in cannon and dance-fight with so much energy and intensity that it becomes threatening. Relationships come and go; there is no loyalty within the group, unless one feels the group were to be at risk.

A mere woman, I can only look on from the outside and suppose that men really do relate in this way. What a pity Jeremy Clarkson can’t dance!

Everyone seems to take it all in their stride, barely breaking sweat in spite of running at just over an hour. The energy is huge and the performances flawless. It is slick and looks well-rehearsed and I am sure that they are all pussycats really. I hope. Go see.

Company Chameleon are on tour until July. Details here.