BWW Review: UN POYO ROJO leaps and teases at Canadian Stage
When my mother moved from Edmonton to Toronto, at the age of 17, to study acting, she recalls a certain teacher who told his students to "breathe from their groins." My mother was young and had lived a sheltered, traditional life, and didn't know what to make of the brazen physicality of the instruction. I can only imagine her worried expression as all around her young actors and actresses tried to take the deepest, most sensual breath of their lives.
Nicolás Poggi and Luciano Rosso, the stars of Argentinian dance-comedy UN POYO ROJO, on now at the Canadian Stage Company's theatre on Berkeley Street, would have no problem breathing from their groins; in fact, they use their groins for ever so much more eight times a week. The show, choreographed by Hermes Gaido, is set entirely in a locker room, where, in between changing clothes and checking themselves out in the mirror, Poggi and Rosso perform a titillating array of leaps, lunges, throws, and catches. They flex, they pose, they fight, they grope, and, indeed, they breathe - deep.
If UN POYO ROJO is about anything, it is about the ambiguities and duplicities of masculinity - a source of both competition and camaraderie, domination and kinship. Poggi and Rosso transition gracefully - hilariously - between enemies, friends, rivals, and lovers. The human body, they seem to suggest, does whatever you want to do with it, is whatever you want it to be. So if you want to be a contradiction - butch and camp, strong and weak, serious and silly - so be it. Power to you.
The real strength in this show isn't in its message, but in its comedy. The male body is as much a source of ridicule as it is of beauty. Limits are tested, then broken. Nothing is sacred, or at least, not for long. Gaido's choreography strikes a sweet spot of high-brow humour and grandpa's tighty whiteys.
That said, the show does feel a bit long, and some of the segments come across as repetitive. Poggi and Rosso seem to possess an incredibly physical faculty, so to see them make the same moves again and again is a bit of waste.
Overall, however, UN POYO ROJO is a light and insightful lark, just funny enough not to be venereal, and just sexy enough not to be facetious.
CANADIAN STAGE's UN POYO ROJO runs through OCTOBER 11 at the MARILYN AND CHARLES BAILLIE THEATRE, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto, ON.
Photo credit: Andrée Lanthier