The Charnock Company, Watch My Lips

Review in Issue 8-2 | Summer 1996

With Watch My Lips, Nigel Charnock finally threw off the role of masochistic, bare-all performer and passed the mantle to four unsuspecting actors. His style is now becoming unmistakable – the clever and perceptively written proselytizing on the nature of human relationships, mixed with an athletic movement vocabulary placed onto a simple set.

The story – if it can be referred to in such terms as it skipped from monologue to duologue to rapid group dialogue – was concerned with the relationships between two men and two women. It turns out that one of the men is gay, one of the women is straight and the remaining two are bisexual. The resulting confusions are somewhat obvious. Despite this element of predictability, however, the show was still highly amusing and possessed a good balance between high energy movement and moments of stillness to create true pathos (in particular the scene where Adrian Howells related the story of a close friend’s death from AIDS).

The problem with the show as a whole, however, was its lack of ingenuity. Not to say that I do not wholly admire the work of Nigel Charnock, but rather the idea that he is regarded as an innovator in the world of physical theatre and yet seems to produce work that concerns itself solely with one subject and often in a similar fashion. The question one should perhaps ask is whether this is a positive or negative strategy? In many ways, one could view his artistry as perfecting a very specific performance language, whilst alternatively one could view his situation as artistic stagnation. Whatever one’s opinion, one cannot deny his skill as a performer and now director/writer. Although clearly not trained ‘movers’, the performers took on his personal movement vocabulary admirably producing another incisive view on the torrid subject of relationships.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 8-2
p. 23