Lockdown review: NAKED (Voila! Europe)

Developed into an online piece by queer collective NAKEDpresents and Swans Events, NAKED considers ideas around openness, vulnerability, strength, physical stereotyping, emotional closeness, and more.

The two performers (Mx Vincent and Paige-Marie Baker-Carroll) initially break from an intimate cling-filmed embrace to engage in a playful, acrobatic, sensual, and enigmatic series of moves.

They are not entirely naked in this film, as they wear flesh-coloured underclothing; but there is still a feeling of total and utter revelation within their improvisations and routines. This piece is intimate, intense, and innovative.

NAKED at the Voila! Europe festival
NAKED at the Voila! Europe festival

Using an empty stage and a wall-hanging, with voice and music overlays, NAKED explores the meaning of the body, the emotional and the physical, and the essence of the self. There are no traditional roles here relating to movement and dance: neither performers “leads” or “follows”.

Created while Vincent and Baker-Carroll were at drama school, NAKED has now evolved into a show which displays bravery and maturity, and complete trust between both bodies and minds.

Whether the performers are literally fused together as one, or with one acting as voyeur to the other’s moves – the show is an exploration and celebration of the muscle and the mind. It has the power to constantly surprise and move the viewer with its unfailing honesty.

Detail from flyer for a previous performance at the Vault Festival
Detail from flyer for a previous performance at the Vault Festival

Often, the performers mirror each other’s routines; at other times one lifts the other in both body and spirit. They hide, they clutch, they dance, they observe. In their exertions we might see the mirror of our own vulnerabilities and hang-ups. Do we accept out own bodies? What it is like welcoming another naked body into your personal space?

Both performers are at ease in their own space. Vincent displays a sensitivity and grace in their movements, Baker-Carroll evokes a feeling of energy and mystery in hers. There is a danger in the piece which flitters around the edges, even when the movements are playful and reminiscent of old music-hall chorus line routines.

Running at just 45 minutes, NAKED crams a lot into a short time, and the filming of the piece – originally planned to be performed in front of a live audience – is sensitively done, pulling back when it needs to, pushing in close to capture a fleeting moment of connection.

You can watched NAKED on demand until the 20 December. Book your tickets at NAKED (voilafestival.co.uk), for £10.