2018 Progress Review: MDLSX (Motus)

MDLSX, produced by Motus and featuring the intensely charismatic Silvia Calderoni, is presented by The Theatre Centre as part of the Progress Festival. It is deeply, forcefully compelling and extremely hard to define. Any attempt to label it and slot it neatly into a category seems both false and disrespectful. Calderoni’s performance is, in essence, an act of defiance—a valiant and passionate reaction to repressive conventions of labelling and categorization. 

Through music and movement, colour and text, MDLSX explores the notion of gender as a construct. It invites you into a space that encourages you to, if not discard your notions of male and female, at least unpack them—intellectually and viscerally. For all its weighty expectations of the audience, MDLSX never feels particularly heavy. The environment Calderoni creates is playful, mischievous and intoxicating.

Yes, intoxicating: this is the word my guest used describe the show; it was, in fact, the first thing he said about it. Specifically, he was referring to the effect of the aerosol hairspray that hangs in the air after several spurts of the stuff. The scent, the pulsating strobe lights, the hypnotic sound of Calderoni’s voice and the entrancing movement: this is all quite mesmerizing.

There are explicitly autobiographical elements to the presentation. Instead of a clearly defined narrative, Calderoni gives us as an impression of growing up and discovering the limits and potential of a human body. In one of my favourite segments, we are given an expressionistic rendering of sexual awakening, but actual genitalia is swapped out for flower imagery. It sounds cliche—this floral metaphor of buds and blooming, but the text and performance are so honest and poignant, it feels fresh and thrilling.

This is anarchic, chaotic, without limits, yet is thoroughly crafted with precise attention to texture and rhythm and colour. Calderoni is our DJ for the evening, sharing with us with an eclectic range of musical tracks and using the unique sounds of each to highlight some fragment of memory or underscore an impassioned manifesto.

MDLSX is immersive and celebratory—a truly stunning work. I’m still processing the experience, still trying to find where it ends and I begin.


  • MDLSX plays until February 3 at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West)
  • Shows are at 8:00pm
  • Tickets are $25
  • Tickets can be purchased by phone at 416.538.0988 or online

Photo of Silvia Calderoni by Ilaria Scarpa