EVENT REVIEW BY GARETH K VILE.
PUBLISHED IN THE SHIMMY 04 JULY 2011
At first, Allege appears to be a simple circus trick: a man balances a glass on his head, fills it with water and organises an increasingly complex series of manoeuvres. Flashes of darkness, fragments of music, Clement Layes shambles around the stage, his head bowed in intense concentration.
Like a good cabaret act, Layes builds the tension, slowly revealing the extent of his skill. Like any good Live Artist, he takes time to explain his movement vocabulary: the hunched shuffle, the meticulous shifting of glasses, water, bottles, bucket and watering can. The finale analysis, which fades to black, attempts to provide a specific meaning to each object. The intent is satirical.
Layes’ charisma is important: without it, his activities are an apparently meaningless rotation of the stage, a neurotic manipulation of random objects and an impressive balancing skill taken beyond all reason.
Yet by lacing the half-hour with wry humour, he softens the stark simplicity of the act. And despite his spurious explanations, Allegedoes hide a broad comment on the distortions created by unnecessary pressure. Hunched as he is, Layes becomes forced into awkward lunges and reaches, ever careful not to disturb the glass, even as it inhibits his movement. The repetitions are, at times, painfully slow but the artist’s good humour, and self-parody, rescue Allege from being either pretentious or shallow.