GET OUT OF HERE!
BAC (Battersea Arts Centre), London SW11
Opened 25 February, 1997

It used to be a truism that every fringe production contained at least one actor whose biography included the phrase "studied in Paris with Jacques Lecoq". These days Lecoq is being given a run for his money by physical-theatre maestros Philippe Gaulier and Monika Pagneux. The last few years have seen a mini-boom in devised, physical comedy work, with a clutch of companies gaining deserved recognition; The Right Size reign supreme in the field, with the joyous Rejects Revenge and the rather more erratic Peepolykus also gaining in profile.

Commotion, founded in 1991, are another part of this phenomenon. Their last production, Don Juan, was warmly received, with shortcomings (it seemed to me) directly in proportion to the element of formal scripting involved. Get Out Of Here! avoids this pitfall, opting instead for the more usual mode in the genre of following a broad theme rather than a tight linear narrative, with the likewise usual result of a piece which is engaging and entertaining if slight.

The four performers two Britons, a Finn and a Pole cavort on a stage of kapok-and-duvet clouds (possible publicity quote: "You'll never see more duvets on a single stage!"), as Mark Bell's suave bearded skinhead Lucifer works his various temptations upon the other unlikely trio. People are apparently blown around the stage by stratospheric winds (represented by party whistles), Lucifer's charisma centres upon singing the folk air "Carrickfergus", and material temptation takes the form of a couple of Wispa bars.

Success for a performer in this field seems often to be a matter of training oneself to gangle. Gerry Flanagan does so wonderfully, with the same lanky, bemused innocence of which The Right Size's Sean Foley is a grandmaster. Kaszia Milliner is a pigtailed pixie, alternating between wonderment and pouting hurt which are equally childlike; even her broken English is charming. Niina Hosiasluoma comes across as Björk's Finnish maiden aunt (it was all I could do at one point not to start humming "It's Oh So Quiet"), observing ruefully that "My love is like a Terminator" and making the first recorded usage of the epithet "you headless chicken" since Brian Eno in his surreal "glam" period in the early 1970s.

And so it goes, most agreeably, for an hour and a quarter. Its general moral observations carry no great profundity, being there simply to underpin the giggles. As often with such shows, there is an impression that your life will not be immeasurably impoverished by missing it that another will be along in a while but this one will do perfectly well for the moment.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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