This is the 99th time the trio of men who call themselves Sisters have performed Clockwork, and the way they move together is meticulous. The action has all the slickness of Cirque du Soleil without the shimmer and shine, presented here up close and personal.
Clockwork slaloms between abstract and surreal with a sparse and functional aesthetic, full of cleverness and experimentation. The key questions that underlie the work are about how a dancer, an equilibrist and an acrobat could come together; how a Frenchman, a Dane and a Spaniard may be united; how three separate and distinct physiques can work as one. Precision engineered to each other’s movements are Valia Beauvieux, Mikkel Hobitz Filtenborg and Pablo Rada Moniz, who founded Sisters five years ago in Sweden with the commonality of Chinese Pole technique between them, and a desire to learn each other to find a shared movement language.
Following collaboration with Greek experimental theatre maker Dimitris Papaioannou, Clockwork premiered in 2013. It’s a very well considered piece, efficient in its use of space and props, pragmatic in its costume changes, and enacted by three performers who know how to connect with us for comedy value.
The trio slide into moments of individuality as easily as they fall into sudden and surprising synchronicity, melding their bodies into illusory biologies or transforming into objects to be manipulated. In Clockwork there is no complete machine, but many parts of a machine – the part that plays music, framed within the stationary German Wheel; the part that winches a pulley up and down, lifting Filtenborg from the ground by his hair; the part that spins the German Wheel with one body, two bodies, and three; the part that manipulates the shape, angle and tension of a length of red line; the part that juggles heads like something out of The Labyrinth.
The final fade to black comes abruptly, whilst the men are still catapaulting themselves over each other’s heads from the pulleyed slackline. This is not an end, the show suggests; the explorations of the three will continue on.