Note: This review is from the 2014 Fringe

Showing @ Dance Base, Edinburgh until Sun 17 Aug @ 14:00

Playful humour characterises this quirky dance double-bill at the Dance Base.

In Naturalis Labor’s The Cut Tuk Show, performer Francesca Botti turns the physicality and sensuality of cooking into bizarre dance. Dressed as a chef, Botti stands behind a busy kitchen work surface to talk us through her recipe for marinated chicken. This soon goes haywire as her body is taken over by spasmodic, involuntary motions. The performance borders on the slapstick, as, apparently beyond her control, her legs start to wobble, her arms slap down onto the counter, her hands begin to prise off her chef’s tunic. At length, as music kicks in, the scene becomes oddly sensual. There’s nothing pouty and Nigella Lawson about this cookery though; moves are twitchy and frustrated, as Botti reveals that beneath the tunic is a dancer’s tutu. The climax calls to mind Peter Gabriel’s era defining Sledgehammer video as Botti poses first with, and then as, a partially cooked chicken. There’s inventive choreography (by Martina Cortelazzo), impressive execution and a clear narrative, but it is overwhelmed by a general sense of bewilderment. So much so that the audience are not even sure when the piece has ended.

Wonders of the Universe is the more engaging and accessible of the two pieces. Three badly dressed 1970s university professors dance us through millennia of history to a soundtrack made up of snippets of narration from Professor Brian Cox’s TV series of the same name. Stars explode, lights beam and chemicals bond, before the trio writhe and squirm their way out of the primordial soup, their faces and bodies contorting to create tentacled monsters and bloated sea-life. It’s expressive, entertaining and full of gross humour – the highlight being an R‘n’B routine to a backing of bodily function noises. In Wonders of the Universe, Cardiff-based choreographer Karol Cysewski has delivered a clever and captivating piece of dance theatre.

Showing as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014