Friday, 15 September 2017

Dead Club, Fuel Theatre, The Place

The first rule of Dead Club is... well, actually, it's wear the hat. This remarkable dance (+ theatre & song) piece was a classic punt on a tip on an otherwise routine Friday night for which we cashed a significant return. This is the promotional video...



... which, like many expectations going into the studio at The Place on the Euston Road, was immediately confounded. There is bittersweet cabaret but there the visual equation ends.

Instead there's a dazzle-ship striped dais with standing places, party hats (as mentioned, wear it) and a sophisticated lighting design that masks entrances and exits, and functions as a wheel of fortune as might have been imagined by David Lynch.

The cut and thrust of the work (no cutting but plenty of thrust) is, probably, a surreal narrative that imagines the sub-liminal experience of death. Or perhaps it's a fun version of purgatory, complete with song, party (games? hats.) and costuming. I noted that it's not a dissimilar subject matter to Hofesh Shechter's Grand Finale, playing up the road at Sadler's Wells.

However, let's just step back for a moment of sobriety. We went to see Dead Club on the same day as what appeared to be another attempt to bring great violence to London transport (this was the explosive device at Parson's Green). At the time of writing, we understand that about two dozen people have been injured but that no-one has been killed. To see a show in which the protagonist (such as there was one) wandering the stage covered in ash was a close, if entirely serendipitous, conceit.

But then, that's a point, if not the point. '... it might be you' is part of the marketing text; hackneyed but not waffle. It might be you, or me, whether or not it's an end that comes in flame. It probably won't be an end that's ushered in by, to take an image from the show, a sort of six foot Wimbledon ball boy, but then for all its inevitability, death is so unique, absurd and, well, just difficult, there's no imaginative limitation on how bizarre our death might actually be.

On a day when the possibility of death is visited on a society through a (possibly) stale-minded outsider's dislike of that society's way of life, I welcomed a chance to get involved in theatre that had a go at owning it. It's more than defiance, actually, it's purposeful. And I had fun on the way.

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