Further alarm bells rang with the first few lines of the programme notes, to wit, ‘Forefathters’ Eve is a choreography that attempts to transgress itself: its codified structures and clearly delineated sequences.’ And a little further on: ‘contemporary science and medicine know similar mechanisms…’
Science, technology and medicine have over the past few years become fertile ground for contemporary choreographers, inspiring sometimes hits, sometimes misses; but rarely producing work as clunky as this.
Four men stand on the stage: one stark naked behind a tilted transparent screen at the back. Him I shall refer to as ‘naked man’. ‘Dinosaur man,’ so described because he has what looks like a raised spinal column attached to his back, stands to the right; ‘boxing shorts man’ (self-explanatory) stands downstage to the left; ‘grey leotard man’ (also self-explanatory) stands behind him upstage.
A woman walks in and slowly starts painting liquid rubber all over ‘naked man.’ Meanwhile ‘boxing shorts man’ starts twitching to an electronic buzz full of crackling and interference. And more words are projected onto two screens upstage: ‘Ideograms, such as expressing the concept without using a filter…’
The notions projected are so obscure you can choose either to watch and try to make sense of them, or watch the performers, but not both; so the point of having them occurring simultaneously is hard to grasp.
Later on, ponderous disembodied voices provide a narrative of sorts unrelated to anything going on on stage: ‘on the other side of the street…’ and ‘he’s here, yet somewhere else...’
Slowly the three men downstage come together and engage in what I can only describe as a jittery St Vitus dance, before joining 'naked man' behind the screen. They proceed to rip strips of rubber off his body, as if flaying him alive.
There follows one of only two worthwhile sequences in this work: when the three manipulate ‘naked man,’ at times quite roughly, but in doing so all four create a series of harmonious human tableaux.
A second interesting sequence happens a little later, when ‘naked man,’ wearing what appear to be 3D goggles, moves downstage, and prompts ‘dinosaur man’ to dance a solo. He does – his movements fluid but not quite human, his limbs distorting, flexed hands breaking the line of his arms.
There is no doubt ‘dinosaur man’ is a very good mover.
Finally ‘naked man,’ now relieved of his goggles, engages in an energetic dance that involves much throwing himself to the ground, half getting up only to throw himself down again, writhing frantically, his genitals dangling in a none too aesthetic way.
It was all terribly intense and earnest and experimental, and there was clearly a sense of mission to Polish Dance Theatre’s work, with the four performers credited as co-choreographers, alongside director Tomasz Bazan.
In reality, though, it all amounted to very little. The soundtrack was grating, most of the movement, with the exceptions noted above, uninteresting.
At 65 minutes Forefathers' Eve_Copy.Doc felt very long indeed. I endured so you didn’t have to.
Age Guidance: 16+ Contains nudity
|What||Polish Dance Theatre, Forefather's Eve_copy.Doc, Laban Review|
|Where||Laban Building, Creekside, London, SE8 3DZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Cutty Sark (underground)|
14 Mar 19 – 15 Mar 19, 19:30 Dur.: 65 mins no interval
|Price||£17.50 (concessions £12.50)|
|Website||Click here to book via Laban|