6 Degrees Below the Horizon (Tour – Manchester)

Imitating the Dog’s 6 Degrees Below the Horizon is a magical blend of theatre and cinema. It starts with a film. A sick man lies in bed with a young woman sat by his side, he begins to tell a story and as he speaks a square opens up in the screen and you see a singer and some people at a bar.

This is visually stunning and a brilliant beginning. From here, live performance mixes smoothly with film and animation as the man tells his tale of a sailor who jumps ship to be with his girl. We watch the hero, the singer at the bar and the faceless trench-coated policemen who are after him, as they appear through the windows that open up in the screen. It is all beautifully performed and seems effortless.

At one point, the protagonist tells a woman he never goes to the cinema, she replies ‘you should go, you can forget all about your life in there’ and this is what the company, Imitating the Dog, sets out to achieve, a mythical world outside of reality. On the one hand it is a pastiche of French films (the actors even lip synch along to French words with English subtitles), drenched in romance and nostalgia, on the other it is very kitsch with the sailors looking like they are straight out of a Jean Paul Gaultier advert.

Despite it’s retro feeling, don’t expect twee; the story itself is a love story with a dark undercurrent and there is a lot of sex.  But, if you are ready to accept this, 6 Degrees Below the Horizon is exciting, original and well worth seeing.

– Joanna Ing