STAGE REVIEW: The Art of Cuddling & Other Things @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle (17.09.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Art of Cuddling & Other Things, a new show by local theatre company Circ Motif, began with the stage shrouded in total darkness whilst two figures circled each other accompanied by an atmospheric live musical performance, made all the more effective and poignant by the small stage and my close proximity to other members of the audience. This closeness did nothing to elevate my fear that there would be some level of audience participation.

The show promised to question our perceptions towards our relationships and connections with others, and asked “Do you remember the last time you were held, like really held?” The intimacy demonstrated was regularly interjected with humorous and beautiful moments of awkwardness, whether through the embarrassed reaction of someone interrupting a couple’s tender embrace to a droll and self-deprecating circus performance which sits at odds with the performer’s physical presence and skill.

This brave and experimental show features witty songs, beautiful dance elements as well as live music and gymnastics. The small and incredibly talented cast of four all bring a unique perspective on what it means to be human and how we move through life alongside each other. I was especially affected by the self-proclaimed extrovert who we later observe huddled in a dark corner, quietly crying to herself. This perfectly reflects the way in which as a society we present an exaggerated parody of ourselves to others particularly via social media, whilst hiding a large proportion of who we truly are.

During several of these exaggerated interactions I began to feel uncomfortably voyeuristic, as though I was intruding on something pure and raw. I fear that this says more about my own issues with intimacy and relationships than the skill of the performers.

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