“Where there is pressure… there is… ”
A seemingly benign comment takes on a sinister turn in Hofesh Shechter’s latest work, Political Mother. As the title suggests, this politically charged piece creates a frantic assault on the senses, catching the audience unprepared on all sides and breathlessly anticipating the next move. With a mixture of contemporary dance, live rock music, a disturbing Hitler-esque character and a gorilla mask, Political Mother generates a powerful commentary – or a backdrop for questioning – and reveals a darker side to it all.
Beginning with a complete blackout and eerie music, to reveal a samurai committing hara-kiri (a suicide in order not to be captured by the enemy), the start of the piece sets the tone for the night – a mad devotion to a regime, and the effects it has on those who ‘worship’ it. The dancers represent a multiplicity of characters, generating a dance that spans space and time, and in fact seems to run alongside the existence of the human race. With their fluid movements, punctuated by abrupt stops and spasms, they are reminiscent of characters in Orwell’s 1984, suffering under a Big Brother administration.
The oppressed silence of the body is drowned out by the presence of four talented guitarists and three drummers. At times, we felt their music literally shaking the theatre, our hearts beating alongside the militant drumbeats, fusing the chaotic images into a disquieting whole. The chorography and music develop and evolve alongside each other, challenging and questioning the surrounding structures that we rarely even blink at in ordinary life. The motif of reaching and penetrating inquiry will redefine the way we look at life around us, and resonates across all times, cultures and spaces.
The audience is unable to predict the next scenes at any point, subjected to completely unexpected visual and aural contrasts, as the frenzied dances stop mid-way and harsh rock grooves smoothly transition to a string piece, transforming the stage. Punctuated by disturbing visual tableaus, such as a couple on the brink of being shot, or an ape in a suit snarling at a row of enslaved beings, Schechter seems to be asking us to reconsider the frenetic pace of our material lives, and the ramifications of accepting a political party into our lives, allowing this to take over and control us.
This amazing performance is a must-watch to experience the raw animalistic nature of the human race. The fatal attraction of desire and destruction are spotlighted in a grittily unsettling manner, forcing us as the audience to be involved as the focus swings from the stage to the seating at the end of the show. The imagination and energy that has gone into rehearsing this piece is simply phenomenal – it’s on for one more evening; catch it at the Warwick Arts Centre Wed 13 Oct!