Review: Machina Nuptialis (CORPUS)

There is no such thing as “the audience” in Machina Nuptialis (Corpus). The dancers are the wedding party and we are the wedding guests. If you are terribly bashful and would balk at being invited to dance or provide a light to a man wearing only white boxer briefs, this show is not for you. However, if you are like me and love the opportunity to ham it up with the officially retained performers and also enjoy scantily clad men, you will be in your element and have a great time.

The dance performance takes us through the wedding saga, from formal ceremony to raucous party to exhaustion-induced fighting, and culminating into a predictable wedding night climax and dénouement.

At first the movement was very stylized but as we moved from the formality of the ceremony into the various, complex dynamics of the reception and after parties, the dancers had greater opportunity to demonstrate their talents. My favourite number involved watching the clearly highly trained performers take on the role of couples awkwardly undertaking their first dance and then dancing to family-friendly, dance party numbers. The situation seemed highly relatable for those present.

There is no opportunity to watch the show passively. We are all invited to pose for pictures, dance and sign the guest book. A word to the wise: if you are celebrating 10 years clean and sober, do not accept the vodka when it is offered; it is not just a prop.

I have never attended a show at Casa Loma and in fact have not been there since going on a field trip with the Girl Guides of Canada. I had forgotten how magnificent the buildings are. The set consisted of a central, enclosed structure atop a carousel. The carousel was rotated at key moments during the performance by a member of the company, who demonstrated exceptional movement facility in so doing. The structure served as chapel, reception hall, hotel room, and night club. It was designed with windows through which faces or limbs could appear.

While the content of the piece certainly made efforts to convey some of the more challenging aspects of wedding culture, if you are looking for a particularly thought-provoking analysis of the institution of marriage you won’t find it here. Although there is a brief and positive nod to the idea of same-sex marriage, on the whole the production espouses a fairly traditional view of its subject matter. I don’t believe the objectives of the show are anything other than good fun, and it is successful in that goal if you don’t overthink it.

The first two performances were in French; however, there was only one spoken line and two instances of written word usage. All use of language was so contextually obvious that Anglophones should not hesitate to see a French performance.

 

Machina Nuptialis (Corpus) played at Casa Loma from September 13 to 18, 2011