1 September 2012
Cate Jacobs reviews Kiruna Stamell and Gareth Berliner’s new show ‘A little Commitment’ at The Unity Theatre, Liverpool on 30 August as part of DaDaFest 2012
‘A little Commitment’ was billed as being a romantic comedy that exposes the hidden discrimination facing the disabled community in matters of love and gives hope in an age of body fascism - and it does! The audience is lured onside by talking about Gareth’s missing intestine and Kiruna’s stature - she moves the mic stands to the back of the stage to make herself ‘look taller!’ Teasing us that she usually uses it pole dance on.
They go onto to share the stories of how they met, their first dates and having to endure the typically patronising response from some people of “Ah well done you” which rings with undertones of ‘you deserve a medal for dating a disabled person,’ which no doubt many of us are all to familiar with.
They exude an easy togetherness as they bat the banter back and forth and just when you’re sitting comfortably and ahhing in all the right places at their cute proposal story - Berliner took Kiruna to Berlin - they start talking about the war and gas chambers and who was the most persecuted, dwarves or Jews, touching on the uncomfortable reality that dwarves were subjected to experimentation before being disposed of. There are uneasy ripples of laughter. (Why is this funny?) They set it up as a competition for who was the most hard done by, as they fly back through time referencing every notable historical prejudice that exists against them.
As we laugh and gasp simultaneously, Kiruna turns to the audience picking out those who wear glasses, asking more and more outrageous questions about how and why they wear glasses, who pays for them and weather they consider not having children so they don’t pass their poor sight on to the next generation. They completely skew all the worst prejudices, usually aimed at those of us with genetically inherited conditions, and the curve ball lands in our laps.
It’s a bit like being on roller coaster in a hall of mirrors, just when you think there are no dips left, you plummet hundreds of feet, leaving your stomach behind whilst watching your world being distorted before they whisk you off into the tunnel of love, regaling us with tales of romance, sex and learning to fart in front of each other!
The stories seem to fly off at tangents from each other but Stamell and Berliner know what they’re doing and where they’re taking you, as they skilfully lead us back to where we started with the question we all seem to ask ourselves when we are in the midst of the deepest love and happiness - ‘Which one of us will die first?’
My only disappointment of the evening was not getting to see the sign for ‘orgasm suck up’ - which I would pay handsomely to learn!
Gareth and Kiruna get married at the end of September and although we won’t be at the wedding, I’m pretty sure we’ll be taken there laughing next time they take the stage.