Singular Sensation at The Place, London – The Guardian

Judith Mackrell

Israeli choreographer Yasmeen Godder is always good for an argument. The premise of her latest work is that the culture we inhabit has become so artificial and mediated that in order to feel anything at all, we’re driven to increasing extremes of sex and violence.

Each of her five dancers are driven by their own quest for deviancy: the self-styled sex addict, mindlessly trying to hump everybody within range; the swaggering ladette, wielding four-inch fingernails and spoiling for a fight. But, as they brawl and lurch around the stage, they become locked into a dynamic of mutual brutalisation. One man vomits green paint over another’s face, a woman serves herself up willingly for sexual humiliation.

Godder’s vocabulary is unsparing in its concentration of raw, contorted, angry movement. And, along with its arid electronic score, it can be harsh viewing. But a surreal hilarity develops in the piece as the quintet up the ante of their transgressions: the sex maniac, exhausting the possibilities of conventional intercourse, has his face wrapped in clingfilm and his feet squished into a pile of red jelly. The ladette prances on stage with two oranges stuffed into her bra, which she then lasciviously and wincingly lacerates with a pair of scissors.

More subtly, Godder and her fine dancers are very good at showing the anxieties that underlie the bad behaviour. They copy each other’s rudest gestures, and they regress into infantile dependency. Sucking their fingers, retreating into corners like five-year-olds at a birthday party that’s getting out of control, they reveal the poignancy as well as the provocation of Godder’s argument.