REVIEWED BY DIANA DAMIAN
Flash Gordon had fourteen hours to save the Earth, but this is no place for amateurs; Nathan Evans has rebranded the Mayan apocalypse prediction into pop culture savvy politically subversive cabaret, having invited three artists- Timberlina, Fancy Chance and David Hoyle- to, well, try and save the earth in fourteen minutes, or at least reminisce about its existence. This downscaling also features two cinematic interludes – a portrait of contemporary narcissism by Kate Pelling and an amusing parable of endings and sex from Bette Bourne, hosted by Evans himself dressed up as a Doomsday Dracula.
Although this mercurial collection of solos gains its cultural currency and subversive nature almost by default, given its playful title, promising line-up and immediate social resonance, it also covers particularly fertile ground without being held back by the need for particular accuracy or any shyness from real-time protest. In this light, the three pieces are both refractive and positively lazy, almost refusing to take any serious formal shape. If Timberlina and David Hoyle play with expectation and content, it’s Fancy Chance that comes in with precision and weighty critique.
Timberlina’s fourteen minutes are spent re-enacting a different kind of Last Supper, one with home-made marmalade- with an added hint of chilli- and some organic bread carefully sliced and prepared by nervous audience volunteers. In this quasi-domestic setting, wearing a home-made apron and sporting a beautifully trimmed moustache, Timberlina talks us through her decision to buy Earth. This monopolisation ensures that she can do whatever she wants, but she promises to be quite democratic about it- and whilst food travels around the room, the double-sidedness of this seemingly tame conversation begins to emerge. Timberlina’s act plays on dualities- and it does so in a disarmingly playful manner, trying to own and disarm a particular terminology- from climate change to capitalism.
Fancy Chance’s piece flirts with burlesque and some powerful feminist undertones; she begins as Miss World, singing about world peace and telling her life story, and ends as an anonymous Korean female solider, a stark look in her eyes. What begins as an open-ended critique of American identity politics ends up as a far more politically charged poke at globalisation and the ways in which identity is publically construed. Stripped of her Miss World cloak, Fancy Chance lists her personal chronology- from her birth in Korea, her adoption in the US, the birth of Fancy Chance and her naturalisation. It’s the image of the solider that echoes past the life of the piece itself- one in which empathy is disarmed in favour of stark social critique through a juxtaposition of seeming opposites. Belting PJ Harvey and military uniforms do go hand in hand- and Fancy Chance knows exactly how to intervene in that imagery and explore her own dual heritage before the fall of humanity.
David Hoyle has the Earth swinging from a rod, right at his fingertips, as he takes us through his heart-shaped diagram made up of key words that form his real-time protest, from love and tolerance through to war and capitalism. Wearing a fabulous black costume, the galaxy hanging from his hat, Hoyle’s real-time advocacy feels resolutely character-based, and surprisingly tamed in the face of such open-ended possibilities. He displaces trust in perpetual warfare, in global revolutions and boundaries that distinguish race, gender and sexuality- and it’s this overtly ostentatious protest against hierarchies that makes his act work.
I Love You…doesn’t necessarily manage to transgress its own form, or echo too loudly, remaining somewhat tentative instead of confident, but it’s an entertaining and precise authorship over a global terminology that is more socially and politically disarming than Nature itself- and if there is a catastrophe to come, we seem to be the ones making it happen.