Getting close to the edge: Shechter II

Lyric Hammersmith, London
May 8, 2018

Maggie Foyer

We live in interesting times. Post World War 2, wars are something fought in other people’s countries while we in the comfortable West get the TV footage and media reports. Call it compassion fatigue, but the regular killing of non-combatants, be they civilians holed up in Syria, protestors in Gaza or just teenagers in London, is something of a sideshow as we party through life. Maybe this is Hofesh Schechter’s message and he is a choreographer who certainly knows how to party.

Show, choreographed by Shechter, and performed by Shechter ll, is an amalgam of his 2016 work Clowns for NDT 1, bookended with The Entrance and Exit. It has a long, slow burn to an orgiastic climax. Forty-five minutes of vintage Shechter with look-at-me lighting piercing the haze of smoke and the insistent rhythm, courtesy of Shechter himself. It is compelling, slightly hypnotic and very watchable as the dancers bop in pairs, alone or in lines trying out a variety of popular steps from a folksy pas de basque, to a selection of ballet twirls to shameless appropriation of African traditional dance. It’s all there, and the beat goes on.

Then just when you thought it was over and time for the panto walk-down and the applause, all hell breaks loose with an orgy of murders: dancers have their throats slit or they’re garrotted or simply shot. As bodies fall they are up the next minute then immediately cut down again. With a team of only eight dancers there is a rapid recycling for repeat killings and no-one is denied their chance.

As we edge dangerously close to the precipice, maybe it is time to stop and think. However, Show doesn’t quite get you to that point, it punches hard but doesn’t hit the spot although in those final moments the young dancers are giving it their very best shot in a thrilling finale.