Catch Me at Greenwich + Docklands International Festival 2020 and Online
The forward-thinking team Upswing presents a delicately balanced blend of dance, circus and poignant narrative for Newham Unlocked, a varied online Festival. Though re-imagined for 2020, the piece sticks to minimalism to evoke reflection on the risks of intimacy and trusting new connections from unexpected places.
A younger man joins an older woman to challenge conventional companionship in which race, age and gender can carry harmful pre-empted views that only deny us truthful connection. For current performances especially, the duo relies on the sensation of each other’s presence to build trust, as opposed to touch itself. With steady tactility, proximity is explored to the limits of a shifting glass panel that separates them. Introverted gestural movements keep their arms close to their chests as if such closeness is initially uncomfortable. Despite the open-air stage, the performers project a sense of confinement within the space’s four walls, perhaps reflecting society’s tendency to categorise our differences by stereotyped standards.
But such disparities are soon embraced, and the layers of trust are tested as they precariously scale a stack of chairs that seem to defy the laws of gravity. With some bold manoeuvres using the set, they stretch physical boundaries as well as personal assumptions and surprise each other with the results. After 13 minutes, a tender discovery is revealed where two souls might align in the small space they share, and through a pursual of instincts, the essence of touch is achieved without it ever actually happening. Emotive accompaniment and intimate camerawork enhance their growing confidence in the potential of one another and adds depth to their subtle findings.
Both Susan Kempster and Jerome Marsh-Reid are faultlessly smooth without straying from the truth of their narrative, which raises questions of a tainted criterion for judging the value of people. We are reminded of the beauty when trust is stripped to its core components, of seeing someone without a filter and facing your fear that you might share nothing but the spot you stand in together upon meeting.
Catch Me is timely, with a refreshing vulnerability that plays to the novelty of touch after months of enforced distance. Encouraged to reflect on what it means to be important to someone, this piece finds its home within the basic hunger for human connection in all of us, whoever it may be with.
Photo: Matthew Kaltenborn
Catch Me is at Greenwich + Docklands International Festival 2020 on the 5th September. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Catch Me online as part of Newham Unlocked Festival here: