Review by Joe Szekeres
I’ve seen several movement and dance pieces this last while and have begun a further appreciation of the art form itself. The stamina to maintain such energy for over an hour is truly amazing.
I asked two individuals who spoke Spanish what the title of Canadian Stage’s most recent production ‘Un Poyo Rojo’ meant. Its literal translation is ‘The Red Hen’. In other dialects, depending on its context and usage, ‘un poyo rojo’ can also mean a vulgar translation of the male appendage. Ok, with this understanding of the two possible meanings of the title, I set out to see why The Montreal Theatre Hub called the production ‘Physical Comedy Gold.”
In the lobby of the recently renamed Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre (formerly Berkeley Street Theatre), there is a gym locker with all kinds of stickers and paraphernalia attached to it. The impression for me was I would be entering a gym locker.
And yes, in the auditorium, there was another gym locker upstage centre with a bench in front. Latino music loudly blared from a boom box down stage right. Messrs. Poggi and Rossi are clad in sweatpants and tank tops and warming up with stretches, kicks and kickboxing. Periodically they take sips of water.
The program states the production is ‘a crossover between dance, sport and sexuality, the play utilizes body language to explore the limits of contemporary language and movement and its subsequent interpretations.” Agreed on this account. The energy required of the two performers (Nicolas Poggi and Luciano Rossi) in Canadian Stage’s opening night performance of UN POYO ROJO made the production unusually strange yet riveting to watch.
For the first twenty minutes, there is no music and sound except for these two men who, at times, are in complete synchronicity with each other whether through their breathing or some of their unison movements. At times, there are some playful Broadway dance style moments which brought the odd bits of laughter. There are sportive moments where the gentlemen jump, kick, and perform gymnastic routines all with the greatest of ease. Their programme biographies indicate both men have had extensive training in movement and dance.
Poggi and Rossi maintain the frenetic and energetic pace for over an hour. They appear to be very comfortable with their sexuality, with each other, and their own bodies. At times, they stand closely in each one’s personal space for a few minutes face to face. Other times, they lift each other up from various sections of the other’s body part. They also wrestle with each other while clad only in their underwear for a few minutes.
Part Laurel and Hardy and part Cirque du Soleil, the two men comically and amusedly, as the programme once again states, “invite us to laugh at ourselves and offers an opportunity to accept ourselves entirely.” To make an audience laugh, these two men felt comfortable in their intimacy with each other to make us smile.
‘Un Poyo Rojo’ runs to October 11, 2019 at the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre (formerly Berkeley Street Theatre), 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto. For further information check the website.