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November 1, 2013 7:27 pm
Twice during Sun, the latest production by Hofesh Shechter for his troupe, a young woman stood up in the front stalls at the Wells, pointed at the stage, and screamed. “Ah!”, thought I, “a critic, bravely suggesting that what we are watching is portentous tosh, and unafraid – even in the face of the audience’s willingness to sit through events which probably resemble the more boisterous moments of medieval bone-setting”.
Alas, she proved to be part of the show, and her protest no more than an inept dramatic gesture. Hofesh Shechter is a choreographer currently à la mode, and I think his work is best described as not being house-trained. There is a wildness, a noisy – very noisy – and angst-laden air to what he does, a nagging eagerness to shout at us for our own good.
There are also, I fear, tremendous messages to be noted in his stagings, albeit I remained at the end of Sun’s 75 minutes unashamedly in the dark. Why the large engraved pictures of sheep and a wolf that feature so tiresomely in the general brouhaha of his movement? Wherefore the picture of a late-Victorian colonial chap? To what purpose the bagpipes and the religiosities of “Abide with me?”. The final appearance of a hanged man dropped from the flies? Why do 16 performers need to indulge in group therapy, as they run and crowd together, and behave with eager predictability?
The staging is hermetic, its effects dependant upon the unrelenting jiggling and posturing of a cast, dismally – if, in some cases, fantastically – clad, and much given to forming clusters of suffering, such seeming Shechter’s stock in dramatic trade. Undeniable is his energy in manipulating bodies, which determinedly mope, rush about. But more resistant to comprehension is the purpose of this wit-numbing affair, with its mood-swings, its frenetic gestures, its arbitrary manner, its wearying incidents. Is it another of Little Audrey’s Guides to Doom? The lighting is fine, the accompaniment a good deal of noise – plus a bombastic fragment from Tannhäuser. The impression is of massive untidiness and the most perfect tedium.
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