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Sutra The Rep, Birmingham 3/5 Un-narrated contemporary dance can be nightmarishly uncomfortable when the choreography and the themes are truly difficult to grasp, but Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s latest work is something completely different. Quite simply, every member of the audience will take away a different interpretation of the hour long performance. The piece revolves around the relationship between Ali Thabet and Shi Yanzhi, a young Shaolin monk (about 10 years old), and the effect that their game has on sixteen fellow Shaolin monks and twenty-one wooden boxes (produced by Anthony Gormley). At certain parts of the performance it is almost as if the small actions of the duo are having more serious and consequential reactions. Fusing the very distinct movements of the Shaolin temple with those of a contemporary dancer was never going to be easy. However, the real heart of this piece, from start to finish, is the ‘east meets west, west meets The Power of Yes (David Hare) Lyttelton, National Theatre, London 4/5 “It’s like a ship which you’re being told is in apple-pie order, the decks are cleaned, the metal is burnished, the only thing nobody mentions: it’s being driven at full speed towards an iceberg.” As I approached the National Theatre, I must confess that the prospect of going to see a play about the financial crisis did not fill me with joy. However David Hare’s dynamic and riveting play was so incredibly engaging that I actually felt disappointed that it ended after only 1 hour 45 minutes. I wanted the central character known as ‘the author’ (played by Anthony Calf – the character a representation of David Hare himself) to keep firing off probing questions, because as the play progressed I gradually found myself beginning to fathom the causes of global financial crisis, which I see as a miracle in itself. The sharp and fast paced delivery of the dialogue and humour infused into the script prevented the piece from becoming a lecture on the biggest financial crisis since the great depression of the 1930s. Much more complex than ‘blame the bankers’ line, the

east’ juxtaposition with those boxes being key. You would never think that twenty-one boxes could actually achieve so much! They formed an island, a tower, a path, the backdrop to a crypt and a whole host of other images. This continuous interaction kept everyone engaged, watching the monks physically moved the 8 foot high coffin-like structures around the space.

out this piece.

Amongst these frequent changes the movements of the monks, the music and ultimately the set up of the stage created an environment which was completely individual. The set looks stark, the monks seem very serious and there is a hushed awe in the audience – nothing is what it seems, and humour percolates through-

As a piece ‘Sutra’ is complex, and difficult, but the incentive of real life monks alone would attract a crowd. However Cherkaoui and Gormley have been intelligent enough to go beyond this and the focus is quite definitely what the boxes are going to do next! Constantinos Kypridemos play regresses back to the algebraic formula for eliminating risk developed by Myron Scholes in 1973, with Hare going on to interrogate academics, bankers, journalists and bankers. The notion of ‘toxic debt’ and how it was repackaged and sold on is explored through the acronym S-L-U-M-P (for sub-prime, liquidity, unravelling, meltdown and pumping) scribbled onto a chalkboard by character Howard Davies (first chairman of the FSA) and unravelled on stage through the action. The stage is populated with people in suits (more aptly mainly men – as there are only three women in a cast of twenty) with a large electronic screen suspended from the ceiling. The set evoked a sense of the business world effectively, and allowed the audience to simply focus on the characters and subject matter of the piece. At times, due to the fast pace of the play and amount of information to take in, I found myself a little lost in facts and there could have been more “show” as opposed to “tell”. However the incompetence and arrogance of the financial world depicted is emotive and powerful and pulls you right back into the action, leaving the audience feeling an acute sense of injustice and anger at how a ‘creed of greed’ spiralled out of control with devastating consequences to the global economy. Katie Meehan

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The Kaje, Issue 1 (May 2010)  

The Kaje is all about the arts - from the upcoming and underground through to the commercial mainstream. Issue 1 takes a look at: Alexan...

The Kaje, Issue 1 (May 2010)  

The Kaje is all about the arts - from the upcoming and underground through to the commercial mainstream. Issue 1 takes a look at: Alexan...

Profile for the_kaje