Choreography and music by Hofesh Shechter
HOME, 31 October 2018
The Night of the Long Knives.
It was like 101 ways to kill your fleet-footed footed lover – or cloven hoofed enemy, come to that. You could use a hand-made gun to the head, the thumb going down and then they collapse. Or how about a zip-like screech across the neck with an open palm, that looked like doing the trick too: they crumple to the ground, throat slit. Then again, you might want to kill more than one enemy at once, so there’s the firing squad, a line of dancers, arms outstretched. And so it went on, each killer becoming the next victim, the march – or, rather, the frenetic dance – of history as an infinite cycle of violence. Often,the fatal denouement was preceded by a courtly or a showmanlike gesture, as though to proclaim: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, for my next trick…’
If this description seems grim, well, it was anything but. Instead we had a show full of a gleeful, diabolical energy whose aesthetic was akin to that of a conte cruel or a Grand Guignol extravaganza. Its sinister ambience evoked the Dance of the Knights sequence in Romeo and Juliet, but whereas Prokofiev’s score is a kind of tango, Shechter instead went for a queerly rollicking percussion that was haughty, jolly and (in the end) infectious. As for his choreography here, it had violence and danger, yet also elegance and precision, and the dancers brought into this full pelt. It was like watching an elaborate checkmate – say King, Bishop and Knight checkmating a lone King – again and again, with each time a slightly different variation.
There are few of us who are not fascinated by the cool display of unbridled ambition, by wanton betrayal, by the grand spectacle of the execution of our enemies and rivals (if only occurring in our imagination). SHOW is unlikely to purge you of this sinful, all too human fascination, though the purges depicted here will certainly satisfy it. Momentarily, at least.
SHOW is at HOME until 3 November, details here.