Mary Pearson: The Sand Dog Cometh

The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool
19th November 2014

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Mary Pearson is not your usual performance artist. As well as dance, acting, singing and mime, her show is also not afraid to use backdrop video and the visual collaboration of sidekick Sophie Malmberg. Now based in Liverpool, USA born Pearson has been developing her act across Europe and the UK with a view to a full tour next year.Tonight's guinea pig attendees were mainly young girls looking for tips of the trade.

The evening got off to a bit of a glitchy start, when a staged bucket collection outside the auditorium was kyboshed when the audience was allowed in before the assistant could get round to do her routine of collecting money to take you to the seat of your choice.

The first sketch saw Pearson swanning round the stage having come clattering down the stairs in a red dress with a bottle on her head and dragging a water cooler 'dog' in train. Twittering on about the good life, belonging to the views of the middling conservatively political majority obsessed with oatmeal gravy and popcorn making machines.

While changing into a university gown and writhing round the floor the audiences attention was diverted from her stagecraft as Spider Man Candy sticks were distributed to the general approval of those watching and a gobbledygook speech of Wittgensteinian density was rendered, (to the video inclusion of building site railings and razor wire), before it was ripped up and strewn around the stage.

Chameleon like Pearson was now in cave woman mode in a two piece straggly orange combo and in a disco reprise of some exertion, which was followed up with an audience walkabout and play on words on 'who's feeling what?', to general mirth as she, if not the object of her wordplay, cooled down.

Back on stage came the title piece of the show. The Sand Dog Cometh was a running dance fest in tribute of the eponymous Romanian to be seen around the North of England sculpting the said animal in the clone like, pedestrianised malls of homogenised high street outlets. Her own voice and those of shoppers asked to comment on the daily artistic process taking place in front of them, accompanied the logos of flashed up household names.

Now in a boiler suit and with 'caterpillars' raining down like diamonds from the sky adding to the detritus strewn stage, as images of building site scaffolding and jokey miming from the duo on screen, was interspersed with footage of terraced house domesticity. Pearson, with nowhere to hide, had changed costumes again as she neared the end of her nonstop one hour long show.

To a lyrical classical tune she performed a delicate striptease, losing some skins but not an acquired inscrutable face mask, before a Chaplinesque mimed finale about forming shapes to a sad tune ended proceedings.

She finally exited in a male costume replete with moustache and left the auditorium as she had entered, behind the backs of those clapping her departure.

It was breathless stuff, showing the improvisation, creativity and stamina of the versatile performer, whose audacity reaped the applause at the end.

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