Trilogy is a fusion of theatre, dance, music and visual media; its substantial 130 minutes of on-stage performance is divided into three, interval-defined parts, and it has been praised in review after review since its sensational run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. In these reviews, superlatives are strung together in a resounding endorsement. Words such as “joyous, life-affirming”, an “emotional and intellectual whammy – hilariously funny, charged with raw honesty and serious intent”, “a piece of theatre that makes your heart sing… and makes you want to stand up and be counted” illustrate the tenor of acclaim.1
There is no doubt Trilogy is a complex and accomplished piece of performance art that combines unfaltering entertainment with constructively provocative social comment, but it is remarkable for other reasons as well. For example, in the weeks leading up to each staging of Trilogy, its creator, 27-year-old Glasgow-born and Yorkshire-raised Nic Green, recruits volunteers from local communities to dance naked on
stage along with her and her principal collaborators, Laura Bradshaw, Jodie Wilkinson, Louise Brodie and the lone male of the show, Murray Wason.
Green and Bradshaw in particular lead by example, shedding their garments early in part one to perform a vigorous routine to “I fought the law” by The Clash. To regard this as a little juvenile (also considering the cast’s birth dates span only 1982–83) is probably an admission to not having seen the event. Vivaldi, Rossini and American minimalist Steve Reich are also represented in the soundscape, and the thirty, forty or, at London’s Barbican theatre in January, one hundred and sixty volunteer participants ranging from their late teens to quite mature years dance in choreographed unison to The Pixies. It is a strangely liberating and thought-provoking spectacle and far from juvenile.
The nakedness on stage, seen not only in a wide range of ages but in an enormous cross-section of shapes and sizes, is also far from titillating, or sexual. Thus does the audience witness the female form ungarnished
with populist and commercial concepts of how a woman should appear or present herself physically, rather than the manipulated, constructed imagery of women’s bodies carefully contrived by industry. And this is, in large measure, the “raw honesty” of which theatre reviewers speak.
One reviewer, however, although writing an appropriately positive report, misses the point on this important aspect of the performance: “In a way, the nudity seems a pity, because as bold a statement as it is […] it is a fact that sex sells… or at least attracts attention”.2 In fact, the mass nakedness of so many diverse and authentic bodies unashamedly revealed on stage, and a sustained nakedness throughout the performance by Green and Bradshaw in particular, had the effect of de-emphasising the female body as a sexual object. It is certainly not “sex” that “sells” this show.
Image by Hamish Barton,
courtesy of The Arches.