• Sun. Nov 28th, 2021

Cupids Revenge review: A breathtaking celebration of life and love

Oct 30, 2021

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After an introduction in which they challenge the audience to work out what’s funny and what isn’t, Roden and Shenton remain on-stage for a full hour at full energy. They run, leap, grapple with each other and perform carefully choreographed movements accompanied by a call-and-response patter that wanders through the full range of human experience. This springs from a discussion of how advertisers use the idea of love to sell us everything. In search of the true meaning of love, the conversation gets broader, provocatively exploring states of being like falling (in love), holding (each other) and breaking (up). The tone ranges from goofy and absurd to thoughtful and sad. But it’s always a celebration of what it means when people come together.

After an introduction in which they challenge the audience to work out what’s funny and what isn’t, Roden and Shenton remain on-stage for a full hour at full energy. They run, leap, grapple with each other and perform carefully choreographed movements accompanied by a call-and-response patter that wanders through the full range of human experience.

This springs from a discussion of how advertisers use the idea of love to sell us everything. In search of the true meaning of love, the conversation gets broader, provocatively exploring states of being like falling (in love), holding (each other) and breaking (up).

The tone ranges from goofy and absurd to thoughtful and sad. But it’s always a celebration of what it means when people come together.

Designed by Will Holt, the stage is covered with artificial grass and features two deck chairs (on a Llandudno pier, apparently) and a partially submerged illuminated heart.

Roden and Shenton dart around using every inch of space, accompanied by an original Gareth Williams score plus witty sound effects, lighting tricks and key words projected on the wall behind them.

Their physical movements are as extreme as the wide range of themes they cover, occasionally resolving into a tableau in which one shoots the other with Cupid’s bow.

While this is clearly well-rehearsed, it also has the feeling of improvisation to it. There are sections in which the pace stumbles amusingly, allowing them to circle back on each other, casually throwing witty insults that reveal their long-term working partnership. 

Through all of this, they use banter to create an exhaustive list of things that have meaning, from life itself to types of people and ways we say, “I love you”. And they also fill their patter with stories, as well as wordplay and physicality that repeat and echo on their way to a final payoff.

Roden and Shenton started working together in Manchester in 1998, creating dance-based comedy shows that they have performed internationally. Cupid’s Revenge was created two years ago, then delayed by the pandemic. This gave them a chance to hone it into their most physically dexterous show yet, and one that tackles the impossibly huge topic of love from a mythical perspective.

The approach is a bit scattershot, darting from politics to religion without any judgement, and taking a remarkably offhanded approach to issues relating to ethnicity, sexuality, gender and age. But love is the central topic here. And where they go with the show is laugh-out-loud funny as well as surprisingly emotional, bringing the audience together as if they’ve given each of us a badly needed bear hug.

Cupid’s Revenge is on a nationwide tour until 13th November. Full details: www.newartclub.org

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