Watching someone trussed up like a holiday ham, spin slowly in the middle of a brightly lit room, is oddly satisfying. This surprising show both welcomes and gently challenges the lines between dance and kink.
Before entering the show, audience members are warned that photography and filming is strictly forbidden, which, while understandable, is a pity because it is so beautiful. Drawing on Shibari, the Japanese art of bondage, Luke George and Daniel Kok use brightly coloured ropes to explore sexual politics and power in their show 'Bunny'.
A bunny is the term used to describe the one being tied up, and in this work, all audience members are potential bunnies. In heterosexual culture, bunnies are often petite women, silently being bound by a man. By having two male performers, and tying up audience members of all genders, this stereotype is challenged. Consent is both required and continually checked as those watching the performance slowly become part of the action.
'Bunny' is full of subtle dichotomies. While Kok is bound by black ropes, and is silent and robotic throughout much of the performance, George is a rainbow of ropes, is charmingly chatty, and lolls about on the floor very sensually. While Kok is bald, George (also bald) has a crest of long, brightly coloured rope hair that he whips back and forth like Willow Smith.
Music is also used to challenge and involve the audience, and the lighting subtly changes as the show progresses, moving from bright almost clinical white, through to intimate shade, and then coloured light that makes the neon ropes pop.
Both Kok and George are dancers by training, and it clearly underpins their physicality throughout the performance. It comes to a head however, about halfway through the show when they explode into a high energy, almost camp, number that is really delightful. It not only changes the whole vibe of the show, it is a welcome break from the quiet, near silent majority of the work.
The show is not at all overly sexual, and in fact is very welcoming and inclusive. There is only one moment of discomfort, when an audience member perhaps goes too far when interacting with Kok, touching his body without asking, which, until that point, has been a consistent norm of the work. Perhaps though, those moments (if okay with Kok) contribute to a better understanding of boundaries, comfort and transgression.
There are many beautiful details of this show – from a bound toy bunny to a banana and the layers of sound created by everyday objects – but to say too much would be to spoil the quiet joy of these moments.
Do head out to see this show, it is a wonderful, gently interactive experience that may challenge the way that you think.