Un Poyo Rojo: 'They react like kids watching cartoons'

This article is from 2019

Un Poyo Rojo: 'They react like kids watching cartoons'

credit: Paola Evelina

A wild-eyed physical riot of athletic moves and homoerotic humour, the creators of Un Poyo Rojo discuss finding new charms in a decade-old work

Fit, funny and sexy is a pretty unbeatable combination. Created a decade ago by a handful of crazily talented Argentinians, the male locker-room dance comedy Un Poyo Rojo (a title that translates from the Spanish as 'A Red Bench') is a highly physical two-hander delivered with sweaty zest and hilarious flair. From humble beginnings as a tantalising cabaret routine, the performance was subsequently expanded into an hour-long entertainment that has been touring internationally to rib-tickled acclaim ever since.

The men who devised it – Luciano Rosso (who originally choreographed it with Nicolás Poggi), fellow performer Alfonso Barón and director Hermes Gaido – accept yet are still plainly delighted about its continued success. 'At the beginning we wanted to create a contemporary dance play,' says Gaido. 'Theatre is always stronger for us, but you can also tell a story by dancing it if you want. And in doing so we drew upon the relationship of Luciano and Nicolás, who were at that time a couple.'

'The story is quite simple,' Rosso chimes in. 'It has no specific genre, but the way we tell it is really particular. Early on we realised we wanted to tell something about ourselves.' At the start, Rossi and Barón (who long ago made Poggi's role his own) stand stock still side by side so we can get a good look at them. What ensues, after a quick spate of deft gestural actions, is a delicious send-up of masculine competitiveness, Latin machismo, and both covert and overt attraction as these two adroit and buff fellows flip their way through a range of dance moves and goofy, gym-like athletics.

Un Poyo Rojo: 'They react like kids watching cartoons'

credit: Magui Pichinini

There's a breather of sorts, with the pair upstage before a small bank of lockers, and Rosso festooning himself with cigarettes as Barón fiddles with a boombox (tuned in to live radio and so will be very different at every performance). Then the pace picks up again, waxing wackier and more comically extreme by the minute especially when one man becomes a human radio broadcast played inside the other's mouth. It's a thoroughly winning, even seductive case of homoerotica and humour.

If Rosso is like a naughty, wild-eyed animated devil on the stage, off it he is inevitably more thoughtful. Devising and refining was, he says, 'a kind of a chaotic and beautiful process'. But after ten years, how does the performance stay fresh? 'We keep on finding new things inside it,' answers Barón. 'It can be hard and tiring when we're touring, because it's like physical training, but we still have a lot of fun doing it. And audiences love watching it. They react like kids watching cartoons.'

Un Poyo Rojo certainly provides a rollicking good time, but is it also offering any insights into male psychology? 'We're just playing with human behaviour,' Gaido says. 'The show could be about the relationship between any living creatures.'

Un Poyo Rojo, ZOO Southside, Nicolson Street, 21–26 Aug, 5.10pm, £13 (£11).

Un Poyo Rojo

Un Poyo Rojo in association with Aurora Nova Returning after their internationally acclaimed world tour. Six shows only. In an empty locker room, two men play with movement, an analogue radio and tiny shorts. The athletic bodies of Luciano Rosso and Alfonso Barón move fluently from wrestling to dance, acrobatics to…