Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother is an immersive experience and a powerful performance that projects political imagery through folk dance.
The production begins with a single dancer on stage who painfully stabs himself in the stomach and proceeds to collapse onto the floor, the piece then spirals into a series of poetic yet highly dominating dance. It’s not often a dance production bears a warning over the volume of the piece before entering, but an explosion of music hits the audience as a live rock band appear at the top of the stage. They give a passionate performance that mirrors a heavy metal rock gig, the cacophony of sounds reflects that of the disconcerting feeling throughout the piece.
A mixture of heavy metal, military drums and pre-recorded softer strings music, form together to create a piece conveying the light and shade in the dance. This shift in power and movement creates a compelling performance that is utterly captivating, with moments of suspense and tension producing an engaging performance.
The lighting is excellently designed by Lee Curran, as the curtain raises, the whole theatre is immersed in darkness. The lighting works effectively with the music to create an apprehensive ambience, whether it is the flashing and rather hypnotic force of light during the heavier scenes, or the soft use of shadows during the more sombre moments.
As an ensemble, the company work together flawlessly to create a visual masterpiece. They move together, tightly and in sync but with a sense of freedom, each dancer’s movement is organic and rich with expression. Shechter’s choreography is mesmerising, he keeps the audience absorbed as the dancers perform as if there is some kind of omnipresent spiritual force causing them to dance in a ritual style.
In relation to the title of the piece, a dictator appears on stage shouting in a language foreign to the audience. The strength of the military drums echoing in the background creates the sense of a nation feeling frustrated at what is occurring, this is shown through the earthy choreography and grounded movement.
The performance ends as we are rapidly taken through the show in reverse, leaving the single dancer on stage holding his sword. It’s an exhilarating whirlwind of a performance, the extraordinary choreography synchronised with the commanding music creates a 70 minute show that will leave you on the edge of your seat, and desperate for more.
Political Mother is on at the Birmingham Rep until the 14th of May and tickets can be found here.
All shows involved in International Dance Festival Birmingham can be found on their website.