In Frankie Thompson and Liv Ello’s Body Show, everything is performance. Limbs and voices are props, hollow and shape-shifting; stage lights black out as the reality that the show inhabits flashes in and out of life. Here, against this backdrop of flimsy and illusion, a feral investigation into the apocalypse of our bodies is being staged: the ones we occupy, the ones we are trapped within, the ones imposed on us. The landscape is ravaged, the doomsday clock is ticking, and it is fast becoming clear that we have lived here all along.
Weaving in a cultural fabric encompassing everything from Tom & Jerry to Come Dine With Me (“all that seems to remain are these capitalist callbacks,” Ello frets), Body Show is both a comedic triumph and a work of remarkable anthropological scope: a relentless, frenetic collage of the nightmare of our gendered and embodied existences. It is exhilaratingly, caustically funny, but amidst its anarchy – Paul Hollywood vox pops, a lip sync of The Last Supper – sits a gutting pain, and a startling, almost unbearable tenderness in the face of such existential disaster. At the end of the world, when everything is derelict and gone, will the twisted relationships we have with our bodies even matter? It is frightening to think that they won’t; it is even more frightening, Body Show tells us, to realise they still will.