Exeunt Magazine – Pathos review

by Laura Seymour, EXEUNT MAGAZINE

Massamilliano Angioni and Fransesco Saitta  are skilled dancers. At one point they mime having sex and one snakes down over the other balancing only on his hands– wow. In Pathos, they use a variety of skills, including gramelot, masking, and puppeteering their own hands in fluorescent gloves to explore the idea that people can kill each other ‘for love’. Real

newspaper stories, most of them depicting violence against women, are displayed before the show. Smacking kisses make a particularly cartoonish and effective sound inside a mask.

The whole effect of Pathos, though, is repetitive variation – just like the looping rendition of ‘L’amour est un bouquet de violettes’ which plays during one scene. Returning to the same idea – macho man, flirty woman, explosive jealousy when one or both partners looks the other way – with little development had a chilling effect for me. At one point, which seemed the longest scene in the show, the two performers mime walking; one swaggering man, one simpering woman, their breath sucking and churning inside their masks in a way that suggested the angry effort needed to keep up the m/f binary display. Again and again, the couple stop and argue as the woman is distracted by a variety of male silhouettes, the man by various female silhouettes. Like in real life, it happens too many times.

Pathos seems composed entirely of silhouettes, surfaces, without letting us grasp the guts beneath, not least when a pair of fluorescent trousers dance reductively with a fluorescent skirt. The main male characters tend to be played as pneumatic action figures, one almost literally pumps up his muscles lilo-style to get the girl. The women do nothing but flirt and ‘tease’, giggling over the muscles held out for inspection, and inviting the men to look them up and down (at one point, two walls of restless, roaming eyes appear). Pathos felt like a tube of Parma violets: a little phosphorescent fizz, all tasting the same.

The only female-bodied performer in this production appears behind a veil, and she is speechless and naked. At the end of the play, she smears blood on herself whilst the words ‘can you kill for love?’ (which flashed up before each scene) transform themselves into ‘you can kill for love!’, which sounds like an advert. This was a very effective tableau of the silenced, harmed woman, her story taken from her by men – but for precisely that reason it left me uneasy.

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