United Kingdom Easy Rider, Eva Recacha/The Place: The Place, London, 26.0.2014 (J.O’D)
Performers: Antonio de la Fe, Lola Maury, Alberto Ruiz Soler, Eleonor Sikorski
Design: Kasper Hansen
Costume Supervisor: Sophie Bellin Hansen
Lighting Design: Jackie Shemesh
Sound Artist: Alberto Ruiz Soler
Text: Eleonor Sikorski
Looking at the two women and one man sprawled or prostrate, and in varying degrees of undress, on the floor around the sound deck at the end of Eva Recacha’s Easy Rider, it was difficult to believe they were the same three people who began the evening standing close together in unremarkable clothes at the back of the stage, watching impassively as the audience took its seats. In retrospect, intimations of their power as performers (and the power of what they performed) were to be found in their faces even then, and in the way they first marked out their territory. Still in the same huddled group, they traced a line with small footsteps around the boundaries of the performance space, their eyes always on the audience, whistling ‘We three kings of Orient are’ so that is sounded almost sinister. As they did this, the man sitting at the sound deck (Alberto Ruiz Soler) worked a system of pulleys to raise a suspended, yellow star diagonally to the roof.
Recacha’s piece (which opened this year’s Spring Loaded season at The Place) is concerned with faith and superstition and ‘our need to belong’. Its simple stage properties (yellow towel, a pair of gold or of black, sequinned trousers) are combined with carefully composed sound and lighting (Jackie Shemesh) to create the atmosphere of a bullfight, a Holy Week procession (Antonio de la Fe holds his body as rigidly as the figure on a crucifix), a confessional reality-TV show. Spanish-born Recacha also uses the spoken word, but the performers are not slickly wired; they hold their microphones for themselves and for each other. What they say is not slick, either. Sometimes they engage in a dialogue with their own recorded voices. Sometimes they speak to the voice of a disembodied woman. Sometimes they speak to each other. What they speak about is love.
Antonio de la Fe, Lola Maury and Eleanor Sikorski show a complete and unflagging absorption in their performances. Strength comes off their bodies as they move. Sikorski (the writer of the words), especially, seems to undergo transformation during the course of the piece. Her voice becomes richer and fuller. She appears to grow in stature. Bespectacled at the start, and wearing a white frilly blouse, she will later shake herself out of her jeans by flapping around the floor like a fish to reveal the gold trousers underneath. There is also a selflessness in the way that she smooths back the hair from Maury’s sweating forehead as they stand side by side in dialogue with de la Fe.
Easy Rider is not a perfectly realized work. There are moments early on when its references seem esoteric. Whatever its shortcomings, they are made up for by its conviction and daring. Towards the end it plunges the audience into an uncomfortably prolonged darkness. When the lights come on again (dimly) the three performers are standing close together at the very front of the stage. Almost naked, they soon afterwards embark on a rave-like frenzy that verges on the dangerous (bottles of water are thrown; Sikorski crawls underneath the sound deck). It leaves them lying on the floor and most of the audience at The Place open-mouthed in admiration and surprise.