To be honest, the nudity in this Canadian dance production from Dave St-Pierre wasn't so shocking after the first couple of minutes. Even when all the naked men were clambering over the audience at the start, the balance between funny and uncomfortable was tipped firmly in the favour of the former, at least for me. I did find the first half of the production harder to get into, as I couldn't quite see how the scenes were adding up in relation to the theme of tenderness. The second half, however, was perfect. From the solo female dancer twirling as the male dancers came up one by one to kiss her, to her stumbling and falling into their arms minutes later, to the very end of the performance, when they poured bottles of water on themselves (after threatening to empty them on us), thus transforming the stage into their own slippery canvas. Thematically, I found myself reminded of LOL (Lots Of Love), although at the surface level, Un Peu De Tendresse Bordel De Merde! didn't feel as bittersweet when it finished. I think if I tried to start interpreting the nuances of this production though, I'd find that it was actually just as challenging and complex a work of art.
For example, that one scene where the male dancers start out as camp parodies of gay men, then slowly clothe themselves, and ultimately, shed their blonde wigs, all the while declaiming 'Frappe-moi!' (shifting from falsetto squeaks to chest voice, of course) and striking themselves (their faces had turned red by the end), that was extremely uncomfortable to watch. Were we supposed to tell them to stop (the performer-audience divide had already been blurred earlier by the burlesque-style 'hostess', Sabrina)? What did it mean for such an overt (and stereotypical?) form of masculinity to be asserting itself and yet turned against itself in that act of assertion? It was moments of rawness and violence like that which made the performance thought-provoking. To sum up, never has nakedness looked so unsexy. Yet it wasn't as though the nudity was somehow being elevated and sacralised, the way it could be in something like sculpture, the sexual frisson turned into pure aesthetics. It was, as Claire put it, like another costume to put on and take off. I find it hard to summarise what the production was like, so if you're in the area, it's on for another night at the Warwick Arts Centre, and I highly recommend seeing it for yourself.