Gigs, dance, art

April 2nd, 2009: Jan Fabre – L’Orgie de la Tolérance

@théatre de la ville

Reading about Monty Python references just before the show had me curious because Jan Fabre seemed to me quite far from them. Later I came to think that’s more like he’s far from the part I like best in their stuff. Another puzzling thing was that he wrote he wanted to be more directly political, but his work always felt pretty direct and often pointedly political. I guess that translated to the very explicit “terrorists” part, but I felt the grotesque characters neutered the point; it was just too easy to feel righteous and condemn the characters, whereas his previous work would be better at making the audience feel included in the criticism — even though I still think Meg Stuart is best at this particular game.

A lot of the show felt a bit watered down, with almost all the trademark Jan Fabre bits but milder, without the uncomprosing fierceness of his vision. Then again, it might just be me being too used to his work. For instance I can imagine some people being shocked by all the masturbation scenes. But it was not much compared to what he has done before, and I kinda felt that was the mandatory Fabre touch, but the overall show lacked cohesion, so that felt more like tongue-in-cheek provocation instead of a disregard for social limits born of a compelling vision.

I guess I would have been better off not reading this leaflet before the show, because the humor — which worked judging from the laughs they got — was disappointingly straightforward. And what really bothered me in that it was consistently easy to laugh at the characters and situations without ever feeling included — meaning threatened — by the criticism. Then again, I heard some people who did get stung a little, so maybe I just can’t relate enough to those situations. There might be some truth to that, and that would explain some of the disappointment: I expect Jan Fabre to challenge by complacency, so not being cut by his sharpened wit was a letdown.

Not much dance, of course, but a couple of slow dance sequences by a single dancer among acting performers were really good. Here the disconnection didn’t bother me, it even made sense in a way. I also liked the crossless Jesus still balancing his invisible prop on his hand after it had been taken away. And the lighting was consistenly good, and great many times. It was like the hiding place of the power of Jan Fabre’s aesthetical vision. Too bad it was on the periphery instead of binding the whole show together.

Good things in it nonetheless, I don’t want to imply I was bored because I was not. But years of seeing his work have definitely raised my expectations, and this show felt short of this heightened bar. A very real possibility is that I just totally missed the point. It wouldn’t be the first time by any means.


April 5, 2009 - Posted by | Dance | ,

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