Miss Universal

7 December 2015 | 1:52 pm | Paul Ransom

"Atlanta Eke dives into dark, comic, sci-fi tinged psychologies."

It can be beguiling when someone tries to fuck with your mind, like when a performer subverts the convention of audience and artist by removing the safety of clear demarcation. When the artist in question is choreographer Atlanta Eke this age-old theatre trick takes on unsettling twists.

Miss Universal begins without fanfare. Four dancers enter the space, sit on the floor and start. As it unfolds they move through and around us. Nothing particularly strange in that, except that as an audience we find ourselves conforming to a kind of polite norm. This is never more obvious than when the dancers take up residence in the seating bank. Without it being explicit we are dared to sit in what is now their space. We don't; or at least we wait until Eke and her three comrades move onto the floor before taking to the comfort of numbered rows.

All of which underscores some of what Miss Universal is pointing at. But not all, because, as always, Atlanta Eke dives into dark, comic, sci-fi tinged psychologies. There is a kind of mania in this work that keeps you riveted, despite the fact it employs the now standard and tiresome 'rolling around on the floor in silence' routine. Smart, elegant, yet still jagged, Miss Universal is a kooky conceptual trip to somewhere disturbingly familiar.

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