Un Peu de Tendresse Bordel de Merde!
For his debut at Sadler’s Wells, Dave St-Pierre choreographs unreserved truthfulness and courage. His energy spills out of the stage in the form of naked bodies charged with an inner, uncontrollable force that ranges from euphoria to rage, from candidness to despair, from distress to passion. An outspoken pitiless femme fatale guides us through the loose narrative while performers dress and undress themselves repeatedly and the scenes build up on a weave of physical and emotional impulses.
Each scene creates an abyss of contrast, from the opening act, in which a woman is paralyzed in anguish and desire, and then possessed in a split second by fury, hysteria and manic desperation, to the great silliness of giggly naked men counting to eleven in blond wigs and enduring the unbearable pain of slapping themselves. All is supported by a nonsensical thread but it works, precisely because of the purity of emotions.
Many left the theatre at different times during the show. They were not prude, just bored.
What does not work is the clichéd representation of gender roles, with barking mad women howling, swearing and wrestling with each other while men enjoy crawling naked on the audience, stretching their bodies and rubbing bums and genitalia before simulating a blowjob.
The stolen references from Pina Bausch do not do any justice to their referent or to the piece either. They fail to evoke the piercing sorrow and grief of Pina’s women falling from men’s arms or wandering around the stage.
The lack of comedy in some scenes is only sustained by the witty femme fatale. Many left the theatre at different times during the show. They were not prude, just bored.
…bare skinned bodies sliding against the drenched floor and caressing each other for an unaware moment…
St-Pierre promises transgression and assures the audience a vital transformation in the way we see human relationships that we do not experience. That is the danger of an explicit commitment. Our expectations are measured against it and we fail to recognise the honesty and openness of raw emotions that really are in front of us. The military sharpness of the group push-ups, slaps and gruff hails are done with staccato precision. An impeccable antithesis to the closing scene: a mesh of 21 bare skinned bodies sliding against the drenched floor and caressing each other for an unaware moment, whirling and cuddling together. It was worth all the nonsense.