I’m not entirely sure what I just witnessed, but I am sure that it was incredible, beautiful, powerful. Set against a backdrop of miscellaneous articles of clothing, arranged along the colour spectrum – blue, green, yellow, cream, beige, brown, purple – six masses of lycra, cotton and knit wool began to move. Fluidly, they expanded and condensed, rose up on human legs and sunk back down to the black stage, morphed and grew limbs, united, fornicated and separated. This continued, the movement and growth, until six performers in white shirts stood before the audience, wide-eyed like children thrust into the epicentre of a strange new world.
One of the two male performers broke the silence, stuttering at first as he found his voice and came into his own. Judging by the audience’s reaction it was an entertaining and amusing monologue – as was the rest of the spoken dialogue throughout the performance – but neither myself nor my companion understand a word of Icelandic so we were left to appreciate the visuals, the movement, the paralinguistic story being told. Linguistic comprehension would surely have augmented our appreciation of the scenes playing out before us, but the sheer enjoyment we gleaned from the physicality of the performance is a testament to the calibre of theatrics we were privy to.
Humanimal transcended language barriers through a depiction of raw, animalistic emotional concepts that oft find themselves stifled in daily human interaction: animal aggression, lust; romantic, orgasmic and violently uninhibited; greed and hoarding, perhaps a commentary on our unfortunate penchant for exorbitant consumerism. The performers acted on their every primal urge and did so with such strength and conviction that the heart beat both faster and slower, palms grew moist and breathing became irregular.
The stunning visual display was complemented to perfection by the music of Gísli Galdur Þorgeirsson, who recorded, mixed and layered sounds on the spot and dominated his drum-set, both while audience members took their seats and throughout the whole of the performance. Gísli and the performers, Saga Sigurðardóttir, Friðgeir Einarsson, Margrét Bjarnadóttir, Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdóttir, Jörundur Ragnarsson and Dóra Jóhannsdóttir, were more than deserving of the prolonged standing ovation their collective performance commanded.