Camden People’s Theatre, London
March 22, 2019
Before watching Anchor, one couldn’t help but smile upon reading the programme notes: “Somehow, we both felt it, and we had to do a show together.” Then further on: “What do you think about doing a show on love?” and “I wanted to suggest the same theme!” This exchange took place after a destined chance meeting between the pair at a dance workshop in Switzerland.
The conversation between Switzerland-based Elsa Couvreur (Woman’s Move) and Mehdi Duman (Cie Divisar) led to the creation of a duet that follows the lives of a couple. Premiered at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it looks at the universal topic of love in all manner of wonderful and unexpected ways. Both dancers lovingly create a magical, playful, hour-long performance that is both comically uplifting and sweetly endearing. You can’t help but feel a part of their magic which is rather intimate tucked away in the warm, cosy space of the Camden People’s Theatre.
Most notable is that the two dancers have quite a lot of fun on stage. There is a delightful chemistry between them, and they share a great charisma that naturally captures the attention of the audience, where smiles, giggles and bursts of laughter are common place.
As the lights come up, the two are seen in underwear as they take turns in dragging each other across the stage, which is comically and lightly done to ‘Only You’ by The Platters, playing in the background. Later on, and fully dressed, more love ballads are featured as the pair simultaneously sing a compilation of well-known tunes to each other by the likes of Celine Dion, James Blunt and Whitney Houston.
In the show’s beginning, a thoughtful and truthful speech about love is spoken in the score, concluding with “Love is like a bird.” This sentiment is followed by a sweet and comical bird cooing that makes regular re-appearances from Mehdi Duman over the show’s duration. Other animal references appear too, one of which sees the pair playfully crawling in dog-like fashion around each other. There is meowing from Elsa Couvreur and a surprise ending where the two make a very different costume change. That conclusion is both funny and heart-warming.
Couvreur and Duman are inclusive with their watchers and get rather close to them, bringing members of the audience on stage and running around in a lively and frantic need to share their love. The audience are very much involved in all of this and are at one point clapping together with both of the dancers doing the same.
Within the naturally comedic aspects of the piece, there are moments of frustration that are exercised through screaming and shrieking at each other. Alongside this, Couvreur and Duman use different ways of saying, “I love you” or “I love you more” which becomes increasingly more competitive as they continue to express their affections. This eventually translates into a series of gestures and mouthing as they continue to describe how they love each other more, and at times becoming suggestive and saucy.
Among all the humour, there is a fondness and tenderness to their performance that is seen in the loving embraces that are exchanged, and particularly memorable in the final moments of the show. The charms and thoughtfulness of Anchor linger long after the show has ended and might make one think about the romances that they have in one’s own life.