Emma Geliot's picture

Homo Irrationalis Karol Cysewski's Homo Irrationalis is about to start touring Wales this November. Emma Geliot laughed herself wrinkly at a performance that oozes wit as it charts an evolutionary process gone awry.

Ever considered how a species that could engineer bridges and consider the very meaning of life has got to the point where the nadir of its achievements is to grow funny facial hair and share pictures of kittens on social media platforms?

Three gormless male dancers, wearing frankly terrible clothes, using minimal props and odd body parts, take us on a journey from the very beginning of life on earth, through artistic and scientific high points to the bewilderment of contemporary life in the twenty first century. It is pacy, technically staggering, while managing to look effortless and often hilariously awkward. The audience at Chapter Arts Centrelaughs hard and often. At the end I considered suing for the collagen fillers I'd need to de-crease a face that had grinned and chuckled itself into a mass of crow's feet, but thought better of it.

The Ascent of Man?

There is some dialogue, most of which is delivered by said body parts. Two backs, crude faces drawn on in pen, ruminate about a possible evolutionary hypothesis. A finger with two dots for eyes introduces us to the first semi-sentient thought of a single-celled organism. Born of primeval soup, in which it eats, excretes and reproduces, early ennui sets in at the limitations of this evolutionary broth: "Sometimes I long for a sandwich". Time passes quickly with nods to the dinosaurs. Upside down faces, a belly button mouth, caught in the beam of some exquisite close camera work, deliver musings, commentary to a screen wibbling on a tripod.

Away from the camera the trio gangle and roll their way through aeons of evolution. Out of this seemingly formless jumble of limbs pop sublime moments a roll, two outstretched hands, fingertips touching briefly, and we have Michael Angelo's the Creation of Adam, a moment later, two hands drag at cheeks for Edvard Munch's The Scream, and on they roll.

Homo Irrationalis

I often find that technology can be an unwanted distraction from the action, but here it is used to such brilliant effect and without showing off, that I have to do a bit of post-performance processing to remind myself of the parts that I saw on film and the action across the stage. This despite the fact that actually how would I have seen a face, which was really a stomach, speaking to me, except through the lens. Perhaps I too have over-evolved to a level of stupidity. Karol Cysewski is clearly interested in science and in making it more accessible through the use of humour. He also has a collaborative approach to choreography which allows for the individual dancers to contribute movements. This strategy certainly pays of in H.I. as the performers point up their own physical idiosyncrasies to humorous effect and play off their very different physiques. I want to name-check the performers but can't find them credited anywhere. Whoever you are - thanks lads, you were great.

Whatever else you have planned for the soggy days of autumn ahead, make sure that you factor in a performance of Homo Irrationalis as it tours around Wales. And if you don't live in Wales you'd best organise a visit or miss out on a real treat.

Homo Irrationalis by Karol Cysewskiwill be at: Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 4 Nov Theatr Harlech on 6 Nov Riverfront, Newport on 11 Nov (as part of Discover Dance) If you'd like a flavour of what to expect, here's Cysewksi's Wonders of the Universe from 2013. It'll be touring again in 2016.