Hands are the body’s labourers. Useful, functional, capable – rarely beautiful. However, Kiss & Cry Collective sees past this, developing a full hour and fifteen minute production completely based around these most humble of body parts.
To read about the concept, you’d be forgiven for considering it a gimmick. To see it, however, is to understand that it’s much more than a quirky selling point to plaster on Fringe posters. Rather, Cold Blood is moving, funny, imaginative and simply beautiful. Hands become representations of humanity on a wider scale, the perpetrators of touch in all its forms: as labour, yes, but also as sensual, as expression.
We watch the action in two forms: as it occurs on stage, performed by three dancers, and as it is live streamed on a screen just above the action. As a whole, the production is a unique blend of DIY and high tech, with cotton wool, hand-held torches, feather dusters on drills and shallow trays of water brought together through crafty filming on expensive cameras to create dreamscapes. This split stage approach is a triumph. In this production of smoke and mirrors, the live filming gives the audience the rare opportunity to see both the facade and the construction. Beneath the illusion, a camera films the magician’s slight of hand.
However artful it may be, Cold Blood is not sentimental or strictly serious. With a modern day Grimm’s fairytale edge, frequent moments of black humour have the audience laughing out loud, and the dancers themselves often grin as they manoeuvre their hands. Nevertheless, it’s impossible not to become consumed by these mini performances. The hands, blown up on screen, are uncannily corporeal in both the abstract moments, stroking skin and floating on water, and in the personified moments, walking on two fingers or driving a car. There seems to be an infinite number of poses and movements, and as the muscles contract, veins pump, and fingers bloom, these wandering hands are their own characters. If eyes are the windows to the soul, these hands are its actors.
Cold Blood, King’s Theatre, 4-6 Aug, 8pm