Review: Alias Compagnie in I want to go home at The Place

Performance: 12 Oct 07
Reviewed by Mariko Harano - Wednesday 17 October 2007

Approximately a century after Sigmund Freud revealed the dark side of the human psyche hidden deep in our subconscious, we now live in a society where the pursuit of body/soul equilibrium is considered a fashionable activity. For that, we need healers in the form of psychoanalysts, therapists, counsellors, masseurs, acupuncturists, and so on. Alias Compagnie’s I want to go home (conceived by the founder of the company, Brazilian choreographer Guilherme Botelho in collaboration with six performers empowered with robust personae) tackles this modern day obsession.

In this hour long performance of “a dance theatre of human phobia”, multiple nightmare episodes are successively and sometimes concurrently unfolded with four papier-mâché sharks sitting on the stage in a rather sinister fashion; a man suffocating in a black rubber mask clinging on his face like a leech; a mermaid-like creature screaming and squirming in a freakish manner; a woman barking and biting others like a wild dog; a man, face blotted with aggressive strokes of ink; a weirdo leering at a girl while gratifying himself by pulling her clothes off bit by bit with a knife and fork, only to be met by the revenge of the girl who stabs his genitals with a fork – and a girl in a black bikini creeping into the open mouth of a shark. The piece also contains numerous aquatic references, such as floundering motions, fishing rods, a bucket full of dirty water and water squeezed from a contorted face. Aqueous substance can be a lifesaver, but at the same time, a most frightening essence.

Throughout these disturbing and, in some measure, hilarious occurrences, a leitmotif of the whole piece is a smooth talking quack physiotherapist treating his patients lying on a couch. Underneath his gentle bed side manner, his controlling streak and easily irritated nature flicker, waiting to explode. An eruption of impatience often ends in the violent treatment of his patients. Towards the end of the piece, he loses his ability to stand on his own, repeatedly slipping and falling to the floor. He proves to be one of those who seek for a healing hand too.

Taking advantage of the six performers’ respective physical strength and disposition, Botelho concocts a unique blend of disparate schools of movement – from seductive flowing swirls pleasant to the eyes, slippery contortionist extremes and everyday pedestrian gestures to combat style reminiscent of contact improvisations.

As is the norm in dance theatre setting today, the sound effects (researched by Botelho himself) mainly consist of various natural/artificial noises and fragments of popular/classical music. The repeated use of excerpts from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony accentuates the chaotic scenes. Indeed, the work finishes with thunderous Beethoven and mayhem on the stage – dirty water splashed all over; a mad canine woman scurrying and howling; and, a pair of bare legs sticking out of a shark’s open jaws. Presiding over the disarray in the middle of the stage facing the audience is a conductor (a dream job for all power freaks), now replacing the handicapped healer, and ecstatically swinging his baton. Remember Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange? Somehow, a disconcerting representation of savagery caused by mental insecurity goes hand in hand with Beethoven most effectively.

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