Digital review: The Pigeon and the Mouse (The Space)

A sci-fi dance production from New York’s Welcome to Campfire is set in the aftermath of a nuclear alert and forced isolation, where Mouse (Tony Bordonaro) and Pigeon (Ingrid Kapteyn) explore their new life and love together.

Staged at one of London’s most exciting fringe venues, The Space, this piece utilises the tight corners of the former church to enhance and emphasise movement, tenderness, and a sense of ennui.

After a lengthy blackout, the near naked bodies of the two principals appear in a close embrace, a beautifully choreographed routine that made me think back to Naked, a stream I saw in the Voila! Europe festival in 2020.

This duet is about love, about skin on skin, about sweat and excretions, about form, muscle, curves and reaching out to trust someone while all around you is falling apart – but what happens when the threat has gone and you are free again?

The Pigeon and the Mouse relies heavily on recorded music and spoken voiceovers with minimal live dialogue (turn up your volume as the sound is not great on this stream). We piece together a story of how these two met and who they may have been pre-catastrophe.

Production photo for The Pigeon and the Mouse

Outside of the large empty space where thein dance interludes take place, the set of a makeshift home is cramped and chaotic, with photographs, washing, a garden table, and a tented sleeping area all visible.

With clever camerawork, we can zoom into the relationship between the two across an hour’s performance, a show created just prior pandemic can still resonate with its themes of connection, adversity, and normality.

Interestingly, a 20-minute film of this piece was briefly available in 2021 and can now be rented on BroadwayonDemand – it would be fascinating to compare with this stage/streamed version.

What attracts me to The Pigeon and the Mouse is the power, grace, athleticism, and eroticism of the body. The dramatic elements around it seem almost superfluous.

Deeply experimental, this show explores closeness but loses characterisation, purpose, or a real sense of danger (I found myself thinking of Camden Fringe’s recent Scavengers, which also explored a similar theme with more tension).

In Bordonaro and Kapteyn’s piece, both Mouse and Pigeon are left frustratingly out of reach, so by the inconclusive ending, it was hard to care enough about what happened next.

The Pigeon and the Mouse is at The Space until 11 Sep with details here. A livestream option was available on 9-10 Sep and I reviewed the stream on 9 Sep.


Image credit: Natalie Deryn Johnson

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