Mini-review – Hofesh Shecter, Political Mother – Sadler’s Wells


Hofesh Shecter has a lot of good credit in my books. In 2006 I saw his “Uprising” at the Linbury (review here but not one by me), then was motivated enough that when he came to Sadler’s Wells a year later with a program that was half a repeat, I went back and saw it again. Hey, it’s not every night where you see a choreographer create a wholly new way for men to dance on stage together, and I was up for more.

This brings us, two years later, to Political Mother, hyped as the sell-out darling of the Brighton Fringe. I can see why: ultra loud rock music; people moving in extravagant ways (even women this time!); five live guitarists and drummers; and, what the hell, a man shrieking something while wearing a gorilla masks. To top it off, the whole thing is lit like a full-on rock spectacle: and did I mention, the volume is turned to twelve?

I gotta say, though, it is not just the fact that I did not have enough sleep that had me nodding off during this performance (aided a bit by the earplugs I’d brought along to help protect what’s left of my hearing). People running in circles; guys strumming their axes like a wall full of Guitar Hero clips from You Tube; drummers banging away in uniformed unison like they’d been dropped out of a Kraftwork video; people twitching at each others; lights down, lights up, people in another place. I thought it was like “Fiddler on the Roof” as scored by Laibach; but that wasn’t an interesting dance place for me to be.

As a piece that merely had an hour to fill, it all seemed to take too long; and while he knew how to move people around on stage, it just all felt a little too much like Sound And Fury. Impressed by loudness? Impressed by brown? Impressed by people moving quickly in the dark from one place to another? Then perhaps you’ll like this piece. But I felt it started nowhere and went nowhere, and while it made a pretty spectacle of itself, it was far from the masterpiece I’d been led to expect. Interesting, probably, but still just a peek at the future and not a work of genius. And while I feel like I should probably spend a lot more time explaining the work and my response, the one thing I wanted to get out is that while there are hordes of people out there falling all over themselves to praise this show to the heavens, I, for one, do not think it deserves it. If you failed to get a ticket, do not cry; you have not missed much.

(This review is for the performance that took place on Wednesday July 14th, 2010, at Sadler’s Wells.)


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4 Responses to “Mini-review – Hofesh Shecter, Political Mother – Sadler’s Wells”

  1. Richard George Says:

    As I mentioned, I really liked it, but then your musical tastes and mine meet in much the harmonious form as a cruise-liner and an iceberg.

    Yes, it was Sound and Fury, but it was extremely well done, and not short on significance. I actually thought it was one of his best, strongly reminiscent of much of McGregor’s work (to which it was Shechter’s most similar piece) in its wit and style. I’ve also never seen a piece make smarter use of the empty stage and gaps between scenes (yes that makes me sound like a complete pseud, but there you go). It was clever, surprising, and a challenge to the audience, but also very, very loud!

    Indeed, given that it was squarely aimed at the industrial-metal loving, political modern-dance fan (Hi!), I was actually surprised many people didn’t leave. The style comes right out of left field and is really quite unique in its genre, from what I’ve seen. That said, it got a good response from the audience and some surprisingly good reviews.

    And where else can you see Seppuku, dancers in stress positions, and the military-industrial monkey?

    There’s a site up at that contains some of the music and a video trailer, plus a competition for tickets and a CD.

    • webcowgirl Says:

      Oh come on, we both like Jordi Savall and Brian Eno well enough, and I like noise and industrial, but I don’t want bleeding ears in a dance hall!

  2. Mini-review – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – 2010 visit to Sadler’s Wells « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] and feeling of threat between the dancers made it far more effective than the limp, overdone work Hofesh Schecter trotted across the same stage just this summer: instead of a bunch of claptrap and painfully loud music, choreographer Robert Battle gave us dance […]

  3. Preview – Hofesh Shechter Festival #hofest and Review – Barbarians – Sadlers Wells | Life in the Cheap Seats - Webcowgirl's London theatre reviews Says:

    […] which opened Friday, September 18th – and ends with a revisit of Political Mother (which I saw in 2010), being staged rather daringly in Brixton at the O2. In between, he’s hitting the […]

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