You can put all the ingredients together – and end up with a dog’s dinner. Revelations by Stan Won’t Dance aims to explore big themes using music, movement, text and film. Directed by Liam Steel and Rob Tannion, with text by Nigel Charnock – all former members of the groundbreaking DV8 Physical Theatre – it has an impressive pedigree. The result, though, is Pedigree Chum.
The packaging, at least, looks great and works well. Michael Pavelka’s set is a vast framework that encloses a sleek modern kitchen downstairs, a lofty space up top and trap doors below. The story charts the collisions and collusions between couple Tannion and Raquel Meseguer on the earthly plane, and the devil (Steel) and his four leather-clad minions, who hang bat-like from the ceiling, recline in the cabinets and sneak in through the washing machine.
Meseguer is a card-carrying Christian with a taste for violent masochistic sex; Tannion’s a regular guy who just can’t say no. In the more effective scenes, their domestic and sexual duels are mirrored by Steel and his imps, swarming about the kitchen like unseen forces. But the central couple never come to life: the acting is banal, and hampered by the platitudes that litter the script.
The devil gets the best lines (‘love is when your ego has a hard-on’)
The devil gets the best lines (“love is when your ego has a hard-on”); but mostly, acting as camp compere, Steel rants obscenities and inanities about war, sex and death, occasionally bursting into song. The aim seems to be schlock and awe, but the salvos keep missing their target. Crucially, among the dangling plot lines, adolescent bluster and apocalyptic posturing, the central characters have neither depth nor sympathy – which turns the brutal finale into a cheap, cheapening trick.
On tour, this overlong piece will no doubt be honed and sharpened. But the creators have bitten off more than they can chew – and that makes the whole production pretty hard to stomach.