I am Son – Sanpapié @ Dance Base
Are we westerners?
An existential quest, this is an ambitious piece exploring the contemporary emptiness of Western/European society in its post-war context, but sometimes less is more.
Although there are fine moments of choreography by Lara Guidetti and the white costumes and props are sometimes visually stunning, this surreal montage of fragments, informed by the post-modern 'poetics' of Heiner Müller, has far too many props: masks, tailors' dummies, red noses, hearts/balloons, a flag, projected text and too many themes: consumerism, the '68 revolution, pornography, the red noses suggesting the commedia dell'arte, national identity (whether Italian, or European or Western), so that what potentially could be a strong piece is overloaded.
This work grows out of its avant garde influences from Bob Wilson and Pina Bausch's Tanztheatr to Matthias Langhoff. But these influences saturate I am Son rather than being transformed into something more authentic. The section where Lara Guidetti alternates between moments of a Christ-like crucifixion and being beaten, to knowing smiles at the audience is chilling and effective, making the audience complicit, but the onanistic sequence is so repetitive it becomes tedious. This uneven quality shows that with a more rigorous, focused approach, this choreographer could achieve something powerful.