There is something quite unsettling as performer Eran Shanny stiffly shudders onto a stark, white stage, nervously eyeing the audience as white noise sweats inside our ears and makes our teeth ache. A fleshy clap makes us flinch from the trance as he slaps an open palm hard across his chest and recoils into a contracted back bend. In this one vivid gesture, Godder introduces her subject: sensory self-consiousness, riddled with a conflict between naturalness and artifice.
The stage is a peephole through which creatures wracked with emotional and erotic hyperbole can be spied on and analysed like wildlife. Covering feminism, sexuality and crowd psychology, Singular Sensation is almost too cumbersome and angular to absorb, yet it is so engrossingly colourful and eccentric that you can’t help but do so. The females writhe in a trio; undulating and eerily focused as they fling their faces from extreme anguish, to suddenly blank, followed by ecstatic girlish laughter. Their snaking movements are haunting in their ordinariness, and the lack of aesthetic faחade is a clever counterbalance to the performers’ emotional excessiveness. And though it is refreshing not to be bombarded with over-emotional over-dancing, when they do click into sleek unison for a few seconds, it is a tease of gracefulness, before we snap back into jittering, static shapes and contracted torsos.
The most outstanding, bizarrely hilarious, moment comes in the final part of the piece, as the music transforms into a bassy, percussive uproar that makes the seats shiver. Covered in green paint spewed from the mouth of a convulsing dancer, dressed with tights over his head, flashing bicycle lights over his eyes, with crispy spaghetti for hair and oranges as hands, Tsuf Itschaky assumes a ‘Human Fly’ superhero image. He is ceremoniously lowered onto a ring of red jelly, and proceeds to slide around on it, as Ilaya Shalit slashes open pouches of green paint attached to her gold hotpants as a flirtatious gesture to the fly-creature. There follows an erratic orgy of slipping around on green and red gunge, switching of partners, rippling bodies and some extreme facial expressions. It’s exhilarating as they swoon at each other, encouraging you to create little stories for them; and watching their carelessness – lolling and smothering themselves in paint and jelly imitates a fearless oblivion characteristic of youth.
Yasmeen Godder’s Singular Sensation on at The Place as part of The Turning World season of international work.
Singular Sensation is a beautifully perceptive microcosm of humanity, a real work of art. And as a green-lipped Inbal Aloni, dressed in a long coat, headscarf and sunglasses side-steps on stage past Shanny whirling and slipping in paint, it becomes scarily evident that these oddball, reckless individuals are only a distorted, colourful reflection of the people staring back at them.