As the audience sits in darkness, listening to the painful and piercing screams of a desperate man we become acutely aware that the next 45 minutes will deliver on the promise of intense emotion. ‘Man to Monk: Part 1, Man’ subverts a traditionally gendered pas de deux and uses it to passionately, heartbreakingly and tenderly explore queer relationships.
Mavin Khoo has an exceptional range of training, (Khoo trained in Bharatantyam in India, Merce Cunningham contemporary in New York and ballet in the UK), and his skill is beautifully woven through this piece, allowing him to convey the range of emotion demanded by this story. He is joined by Victor Callens, (trained at the CNSM in Paris) who in every action measures up to Khoo. His solo embraced emotion and was a beautiful moment of singularity, independence and pure joy.
The choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra has stated that he set out to ’embrace all of human emotions – both the light and darkness’ in ‘Man to Monk: Part 1, Man’ and he certainly achieves this. We travel through the story of Khoo and Callen’s relationship, empathising and understanding each of the highs and lows, because they are shown with the boldness and fearlessness of Guerra’s choreography. Each movement of the dance not only tell a story that is familiar but the powerful choreography holds within it a world of contradictions. Animalistic yet human, smothering yet lonely, desperation yet independence.
The violent and frenzied ending to the piece cleverly brings us back to the beginning, and gives us the impression of a cyclical relationship. Both with the self, and within the love between these two men. ‘Man to Monk: Part 1, Man’ portrays all of the ugliness of relationships with a beauty that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.
PHOTOS: Sadlers Wells