Mirabilia Festival Review: Joan Cleville Dance-‘Plan B For Utopia’


Grappling: photo by Nicole Guarino

How to stage a two person revolution, when these times seem more fraught than ever? Joan Cleville Dance‘s brilliant Plan B For Utopia asks the kind of questions that come with night sweats, when the filing cabinet in your brain becomes overstuffed with the scrunched up whys and hows.

Solene Weinachter, who possesses brilliant comic timing, and John Kendall, full of goofy pathos, posit questions of social stratification and shattered dreams. It is at once playful and poignant. There’s a timeless zest to their freestyling, and the slow reveal of shared vulnerability becomes sharpened with cynicism. A tender pas de deux dissolves, as Kendall is slung over Weinachter’s shoulders like a careworn toy.

This role reversal is implicit throughout: Weinachter is the catalyst for action. She manipulates Kendall like a puppet using coathangers in an MGM parody of Over the Rainbow; attempts to manufacture excitement for him using birthday cake and a keyboard, but the pair are both always pitched somewhere between hysteria and tears, like a child who (spoiler alert) learns the harrowing truth about the tooth fairy.


It’s my party:photo by Nicole Guarino

Whether clowning, telling slightly warped fables or dancing, the duo are deadpan but earnest, and their requirements for happiness are simple. There are no secrets, only the here and now, and each other. Hope remains as ephemeral as rainbows, but sometimes it’s all we have. Plan B... in all its messy glory is an open-hearted, life-affirming thing of beauty.

(Lorna Irvine)



Part of Focus Scotland at Mirabilia Festival, Italy




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