Skyfall vs Wishful minment

"Let's use the hat-nav" ; from Wishful minment.

Photo: Christmas Cabarets 2013 at Greenwich Dance, Alex Fine

See more Wishful minment photos.

Do The Five Andrews have the credentials to critique the institution of the James Bond movie? We've been around for nearly half its 50 years - and believe it's a simple question of duty to one's country.

Skyfall is the latest Bond movie.  It starts with a high energy chase under the direction of 'M'. The trajectory of the chase seems unlikely, being largely over roofs of buildings and trains. The chase's immediate goal is made clear in the narrative from the start - to retrieve a hard drive with the identities of MI6 agents embedded in terrorist organisations.

We are obliged to compare this sequence with the opening sequence of The Five Andrews' pre-Christmas 2012 offer, 'Wishful minment', as there are some parallels, and where there are differences, they are worthy of our critical thoughts.

The Five Andrews have often featured in its works the implied presence of a 'mother' figure. Sometimes this presence is indicated by a synchronised glance towards a corner of the stage. In all three of our performances at Greenwich Dance Agency this trope has been adapted and re-used.

In Wishful minment, the most recent work we've shown at GDA, for the first time a 'mother' figure - known to the company as the Lord of Hosts, albeit never addressed by name in our narrative - appears on stage as the surveyor and director of proceedings.  She is the precursor and the progenitor of all that follows. She is somewhat remote from the detail, her authority unassailable. Yet she is central to the plot. 

Wishful minment, like Skyfall, begins with a high energy chase with an unlikely trajectory. In the absence of set - our entire budget was £250 - our chase is from one side of the stage to the other and back again, in reverse, tapping tambourines. As with M for the Bond chase, our Lord of Hosts observes, but the goal of our chase is not explicit.

In each artefact, the chase could be incessant, each with its advances and retreats. The Bond chase is characterised by its spectacular destructiveness; the Five Andrews' by its benign absurdity. In both we find stalemate; each chase achieves nothing in the end other than its own fulfilment. Finally  each looks to its respective, remote M figure for resolution.

In Bond a goal-directed instruction is disappointed. In the Five Andrews the call to 'M' consists of an inferred realisation that the entire sequence was faux: the generative instruction had been mis-heard. Bond's colleague, faced with an order to shoot the enemy and likely kill Bond with the same bullet, stalls by pretending the order was not audible.

What would a Five Andrews version of Skyfall's opening sequence look like? Instead of the mere thwarting of an explicit goal, it would be more theatrical if the denoument of all that spectacular destruction was a revelation that it was all for nothing, misplaced, so that, after the fact, its spectacle is re-doubled in the minds of the audience, by its sheer wantonness. Perhaps, for example, Bond has simply forgotten he'd put the 'missing' hard drive in the breast pocket of his other suit which had, throughout, been hanging in the wardrobe of his hotel room. Alternatively, that no one had wanted him to find a hard drive, but to look for something that was a 'yard wide'. Perhaps Bond was simply instructed to go for a 'hard drive' rather than attempt to retrieve a stolen object. And in the case of Skyfall's opening sequence, he would have fulfilled this assignment admirably.

The remainder of Skyfall continued the theme of disappointment and failure, with momentary successes. In playing out this, the narrative set the audience's expectations, and at least twice it shockingly denied them.

Wishful minment had a similar narrative interest. But in its finale our version of 'M' engineered the show's biggest - and double - denial from the audience itself.