DeadClub by Requart and Rosenberg – The Place Theatre, London
Like spectators at a boxing match, the audience stands around a raised platform painted in Bridget Riley black and white stripes, for a show that pits dance, theatre and music at each other, emerging with a mix that surprises and entertains. Dancers emerge from the space beneath via trap doors, and disappear back through them, sometimes head first, sometimes rear first with head and feet the last to vanish. The Alice in Wonderland proportions of big people – and a couple of the dancers are seriously tall – in small spaces is enhanced by child-like bright green shorts, white ankle socks and Bo-peep dresses, and by scenes involving tiny pop model people who engage in cryptic discussions. Four men and one woman stalk the stage in ritualistic fashion, as dead crows rain from above, and perform torch song numbers. There is also a random selection system, as spotlight picks audience members for personal attention which, for one lucky woman, involves a personalised funeral oration.
Deadclub is disconcerting and entirely unpredictable. The style of the choreography on show is angular and odd, and performance conventions seem to have been comprehensively realigned. The theme of death flickers in and out of focus to the accompaniment of melancholy songs. It is the antithesis of Follies, the Stephen Sondheim extravaganza I happened to have seen earlier in the day, offering no defined narrative and certainly no explanation of anything. On that basis, it provocative and irresistible, a strange and fascinating evening.