From the very start of Hofesh Shechter’s return to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, with a blatant nod to the monolith and apes of 2001 Space Odyssey, we a bombarded with a dense series of cultural references.
We are thrown hints of Titanic with a life-jacket wearing musical sextet, prolonged hakas, zombies and marionettes. We get a taste of Lord of the Flies, and an impromptu rave. We get Cossacks, even a dab or two.
There is so much here, and yet also so little. The eleven dancers pulse and shake, ritually slaughter, and lifelessly drag each other around the stage – you hope the smears left behind are from the unexplained downfall of bubbles that accompany one vignette rather than sweat, but the latter seems more likely. If the first half wasn’t so studiously monochromatic it could even be blood.
The choreography is dense and flawless, and the sparse set – a series of giant masquerading pillars that circle around like a possessed Stonehenge, creating barriers and shelters – literally looms over the action with every inch a deliberate menace.
But, ironically, like late Kubrick despite all the obvious talent in front of your eyes there is little to connect the dots in your brain, instead a kind of frenetic nihilism pervades that gives us multitudes of movement but such little progress. Even the costume change in the second part only degrades us further: half the company are in tracksuits.
With so many bodies on stage, there is precious little connection between them. One couple joins together for a split second in the first half; we get a smidgen of slow dancing in the second. Just one kiss. So much humanity, and yet so little joy.
Perhaps somewhere, in there, is the point.