les ballets c de la b — alain platel's pitié!

Alain Platel, founder of Les Ballets C. de la B., is renowned for creating challenging, provocative works – from the emotionally charged vsprs in 2006, to Wolf in 2004 (which included 14 dogs on stage). This latest production, pitié!, reunites Platel with vsprs composer Fabrizio Cassol to create an intense study of Bach’s extraordinary composition Matthew Passion.

Platel’s daring reinvention of Bach’s ‘untouchable’ masterpiece explores our ability to sympathise by approaching the central story of the crucifixion from the perspective of the mother. By working extensively with a cast of ten dancers over a period of months, Platel questions the limits of the individual’s ultimate sacrifice: himself.

The extremes of emotion are amplified by Cassol’s ambitious score, which draws on the essence of Bach’s music, and is performed live on stage by eight musicians including regular C. de la B. collaborators Aka Moon, plus three singers.

- from the sadlers wells website

oh. my. god.

this is the WORST thing that i have EVER seen.

first of all, i got there late. i'm late for a lot of things, but i am never late for the theatre. the tickets said that latecomers would not be admitted, and true to their word they banished me and the other bad kids upstairs to watch the performance on a tv. after 30 minutes they kindly let us in to the show and we watched from the 2nd circle (nosebleed section).

when i first got to the venue all huffy and puffy i was like "damn! i've missed 10 minutes.", but as i sat there knowing that it was a 115 minute show with no interval i thought "damn. i only missed 10 minutes."

the musicians were great, the singers were great, but the choreography? oh it was bad. the dancers were not performing ballet, they looked like they were having seizures. a multitude of people flinging their arms gracelessly, rolling around on the ground and screaming for no reason is not my kind of art. don't get me wrong, i like my art to the left, but this shit was too left. it was the kind of left that only an insecure art critic would claim to love simply because they couldn't understand it. "oh this makes no sense at all....it must be reeeeeeally deep."

other quirky elements of the show included:

1. there were microphones built in to the stage that were used sporadically by the dancers who wailed, screamed and shouted into them. one of them also said "i would like to thank my family for loving me. the rest of the world can kiss my ass." um....ok.

2. the dancers kept removing their clothes (and then putting them back on). what this had to do with anything i'm not sure. and the simulated sex...why? i don't need to see a man grab another man's nipple for no apparent reason.

3. the dancers insisted on randomly screaming seemingly irrelevant things. my favourite such moment was during a simulated orgy on a table when a woman shouted out: "I. AM. HUNGRYYYY!". in my head i screamed back: "WELL. EAT. BITCHHHHH!"

and the highlight [please note the sincere sarcasm] of the show was when all the dancers gave their backs to the stage, pulled down their pants and squatted for 5 mins, buttocks splayed. i was not expecting to receive the gift of anus that night, and i really could have done without it. THANK GOD i was in the nosebleed section, i can only imagine what the view was like in the stalls. the black dude, stage left, who got up from the squat position far too ungracefully would have been an endoscopist's dream.

in the end i just sat there laughing, not out loud, but i couldn't stop. as i wiped the tears away i smiled at how crazy the universe is. there i was fighting to be on time, when the universe was trying to save me from this wretch of a performance. if i was gonna be late to any show, this was the one to be late to.

pitié? they should pronounce it "pity".

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