Put two people on a stage and, once they've got bored of their own company, they have to co-exist. In a piece centred around a series of games or rituals, Lobke Leirens and Maxim Storms stare intensely at that dynamic.
"People" is maybe not the right word. Leirens and Storms, from Belgium, play something closer to aliens, squeezed into human frames. A long opening sequence finds them exploring their own forms – uncomfortable for them and uncanny to watch. The movements are carefully pointed, all odd jerks and bow-legged lurching as they, literally, get into their stride. They're not quite right, but they make do and move on to dealing with the existence of each other.
They play games to pass the time, but they're not fun. They're sometimes painfully violent to watch. Are they helping each other pass the time, or trying to break the tedium? Are they forging a connection or breaking the other's spirit? Almost without words, the pair keep our gaze intensely with some very deliberate set pieces. It's slow, but never boring.
Thing is, it's not clear any of these tell us much. A quasi-religious ritual involving a spectacular fur headpiece and a very gory seabird is stomach-churning, but its inclusion seems more about ensuring that we go home with an unforgettable image than marking character development or a progression in their terrible co-dependence. They return to their non-ritualistic garb (though a bit bloodier) for a mock Q&A which delights in ensuring we finish none the wiser. Still, it really is a striking image.
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