At the Oxford Harlequins / Cherwell School Playing Field, Marston Ferry Road, Thu October 9th 2008, 4pm and 6.30pm
This 14-tonne digger arrives in the ring, a man steps out and starts walking and suddenly the dance begins. What follows is a dazzling display of dancing and athleticism and trust. Why trust? Because the dancer has to put himself at the mercy of the driver of the digger: often the digger picks him up lovingly and deposits him gently but sometimes she whirls swiftly round in rage or seems to go for him angrily and you realise that this is a huge powerful machine that could completely destroy the man. He, the dancer, is truly graceful, whether he is rolling on the ground or moving in the air as his digger transports him on high. He is also athletic and performs some memorable feats while being held or whirled aloft by his playful lover.
It all looks effortless, but the choreography has to be really tight to work well (and be safe). I particularly loved the part where he walks away but she gets up on her . . . er, back wheels? and he has to come back to her. The whole effect is beautiful but it is also, as the programme says, a gentle parody of a traditional pas de deux.
The audience too was interesting: it was as wide a mixture of ages as I have seen for a long time. A girl at my feet seemed more intent on practising her writing skills but, looking round, most people seemed to be enjoying the occasion.
If this is the quality of the performances produced by Playhouse Plays Out, then I will go to more of them. ‘Unexpected shows in unexpected places’ they call it. My only criticism is that there were no posters near the site. I wandered round Cherwell School for a little while before being directed to the other playing fields across the road. However, it was worth the search: those of you who were not there today missed a beautiful, and funny, love duet.