Marking ten years of Company Chameleon

The Place, London
May 1, 2018

Charlotte Kasner

Spanning the work of Company Chameleon’s first decade, 10 showcases the works Anthony Missen and Kevin Edward Turner. Unfortunately, there is little to discern between the over-long three works in terms of movement vocabulary or development or indeed music by which was uniformly loud and repetitive.

Turner’s Imprint deals with the perennial triangular relationship: two men, one woman. There are moments when it really takes off, mostly in small gestures and fleeting glances. The long sections in between soon became reduced to mere acrobatics, though, sometimes interesting for their innate physicality but mostly it’s relentless movement for movement’s sake. There is so little character development that it is impossible to tell the men apart or fathom why the woman drifts from one to the other. It is a work with little shape to the work. Given the clichéd premise, Imprint really has nothing to say and nowhere to go.

Imprint by Kevin Edward TurnerPhoto Joel Chester Fildes
Imprint by Kevin Edward Turner
Photo Joel Chester Fildes

Missen’s Trip promise to reveal a dark world of self-deception but instead it delivers a confused muddle of self-absorption with much (literal) chest-beating and heavy breathing. It is a solo for a lad who enters a talent competition. It is obvious from the outset that he is doomed as he trips while walking to the microphone and haltingly attempts a song having demonstrated much laboured breathing and hand-wringing.

That is pretty much all that there is to it, save for a bizarre section with a tailor’s dummy, clumsily manipulated by a person in a hoodie. A tedious monologue of psychobabble is accompanied by the donning of strings of beads removed from the otherwise near-naked dummy which in turns points to him and then is pushed over. He actually says at one point “Yes, I know some big words”. Alas the big words are strung together by incoherent little words as if a machine translation had a heuristic headache. Andrew Loretto is credited as a dramaturg but seems to have missed the mark altogether with Trip.

Missen and Turner’s Rites, the inaugural work of Company Chameleon comes out the best of the bunch but, again, is far too long and very repetitive. It presents a toxic view of masculinity without managing to offer any subtlety or even logic along the way.

The opening is strong, with two mates punching the air and singing a silly song about a big sombrero. Then suddenly one of them is the father and the other the son. A nice moment when son balances on his supine father’s upturned feet and, arms outstretched, declares, “Look dad, I’m flying”. The gruff riposte of “You can do anything you want son” is a bit like one of those moments in a hospital soap opera when a character announces “Don’t eat that burger, you’ll have a heart attack”. Bound to be downhill all the way from here for the likely lads.

They revert to being mates and after much prolonged larking about over nothing, join the army. They appear to be on a tour of duty in a tropical forest and an interminable mime of hacking their way through the undergrowth ensues. One is wounded and, in another good snapshot moment, the other picks him up and points his feet as if his body were a gun. It conjured up the entirely inappropriate memory of the sentimental Rolf Harris song ‘Two Little Boys’, until, that is, one of them beat the other to death. PTSD perhaps? Again, there is much macho posturing and literal beating of chests, punctuated by heavy breathing. When Lloyd Newson and DV8 looked at what it means to be a man in Enter Achilles, they created a powerful, witty piece sparkling with original choreography and an enviable way of handling a pint. This was a very faint intimation of the subject matter with none of the redeeming factors.