Baking is handiwork and this is clear from the beginning of Good Hands as a performer reads a recipe aloud at her table before proceeding to carry out the instructions step for step. She unerringly reaches for the ingredients from the shelves behind her, weighs it all out carefully and mixes flour, butter, egg, sugar and various spices to a smooth dough. The video camera positioned next to her on the table films every movement of her hands and this extreme close up flickers across the television screens on both sides.
As the cake is put on to bake for 30 minutes, the four performers give the guests demonstrations of a special kind of handiwork. Sitting at the four tables they skilfully demonstrate a series of chemical, physical and mechanical tricks, each one performing at one of these 'stages'. Water and wine swap places slowly in two glasses on top of one another. A burning match is tossed into a glass bottle and the resulting vacuum sucks an egg inside it. A sweet causes cola to shoot from its bottle like a fountain. Lit teabags become little rockets that light their way into the air.
Good Hands plays on the expectation of entertainment that often accompanies a visit to the theatre. The simplicity of the handiwork and the everyday aspect of the materials stand in contrast to the lurid effects of the kitchen table magic provoking amazement and guffaws in reaction to the baffling properties of the all-too-familiar. What happens is small and simple and not so different to those things children love figuring out or what goes round a bar on a fun evening. Contrary to the usual efficiency of entertainment shows, every action is given its own time, be it baking and decorating a cake or the preparation and execution of a trick.
Cake baking and experimentation with store cupboard physics intersect in their mixture of ingredients that react with one another and change states. In the end the delicious smell from the oven indicates that the transformation of the cake has been taking place from the beginning and it now undergoes another change, into an artfully decorated gingerbread house. But for those looking forward to tasting it, there's just one more trick left...
Oliver Benn, Eva Meyer-Keller, Irina Müller, Hanna Sybille Müller, Rico Repotente, Sean Reynard, Skadi Schulz
Alice Chauchat, Martin Nachbar, Goor Zankl
Stuk (Leuven), Juan Dominguez, Daniel Belasco Rogers, Litò Walkey
Produced by Festival a/d Werf (Utrecht) and KunstenFESTIVALdesArts. Supported by Goethe-Institut.
Gaetano Cammarota F.I.S.Co. 09 - Festival Internazionale sullo Spettacolo Contemporaneo , Bologna 17>23 aprile 2009
Transfabrik, Théatre de la cité, Paris (FR)
Dansfabrik, Le Quartz, Brest (FR)
Perfect Performance Festival, Dansens Hus, Stockholm (SE)
La Casa Encendida, Madrid (ES)
Le Vivat, Armentiers (FR)
La Maison Folie de Wazemmes, Lille (FR)
Fondation Cartier, Paris (FR)
Klapstuk Festival, Leuven (BE)
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels (BE)
Festival a/d Werf, Utrecht (NL)