Saturday, December 05, 2009

What's love got to do with it?

Last night's performance of Love| Death| The Devil at the Goethe Zentrum had the audience either leaving fifteen minutes into the performance, or stunned into silence by the end. It consisted of six dancers, a few animal masks and the most puzzling presence of a table and a few chairs.

Now I have a high threshold for performances that require patience, but this one was just weird: every once in a while some person would grab a megaphone and ask us if we were afraid to die and announce that s/he was not afraid to die.

Every once in a while they'd put on animal masks and writhe on the floor, gurgle and make animal sounds, change costumes and do a bit of Kraftwerk-y prancing, and John Woo-ish gunslinging, and then holler at us through the aforementioned megaphone. It was all headache inducing, not least because of all the dry ice they seemed to need. The final straw was one dancer who gagged himself on one microphone and left long strings of bodily fluid on it which dangled like a broken spider web until he flicked it off some fifteen minutes later. I tell you, the entire audience watched that string of spit with horrified fascination for the entire fifteen minutes while other no doubt more interesting things were happening elsewhere on the stage.

I mean, I think of death for a large part of my waking day, okay, and having a few people asking me in between dance moves if I am afraid of death does not convince me that this was supposed to be some deep, meaningful take on eros and thanatos. Love was conspicuous by its absence, and what the devil the devil had to do with any of it is something I'm still trying to figure out.

The one good thing about the performance was, of course, that at least a few people in the audience would have welcomed death in preference to watching more of the dance.


Monica said...

I saw some of Ben J Riepe Kompanie's performances on youtube. I thought they were fascinating and was jealous of you guys who were getting to see them live! Here is a review by someone who liked Love/Death/Devil - linking to it because it articulates nicely some of the things I liked about them:

Space Bar said...

Monica: I love Swar's writing but I find we're often at odds about theatre - for which, I will freely admit, I do not share her passion or enthusiasm. So my views are necessarily coloured by my - let's call them by their true names - prejudices.

Yes, it began well; I was enthralled. But from the moment the iterations about death began, I rapidly lost interest. Maybe it's just me.