Presented by Ballet Rambert & Sadler’s Wells
Reviewed March 14th 2020
Described as “way ahead of anything else as the best the Festival had to offer”, in The Australian in 1996 this “funny, disturbing and prescient physical theatre work involving one night in a British pub with eight lads, a stacked jukebox and a skinful of lager” as the show description boasts, this work has just got better with age. Lloyd Newson comes with a formidable array of success to his name. He founded the famous DV8 company in in 1986 with Michelle Richecoeur and Nigel Charnock and he has continued to lead the company as Artistic Director and choreographer to the present day.
By creating works born out of a desire to “communicate ideas and feelings clearly with a focus to socio-political issues” Newson broke the mould of modern dance. At the time he described contemporary dance as an art form with “ a lack of subject matter”. DV8’s works were controversial, immediate, thought provoking pieces with something to say about the world. It provided a platform for strong energetic dance opening up a new definition for particularly male contemporary dancers which grabbed the imagination, and attention, of the dance world and making Newson a well-earned reputation as a new and innovative choreographer on the world stage.
This 2020 version of Enter Achilles has added a few things to the mix and turned this riveting exploration of male behaviour into a reflection of the male in todays society. It gives men and their behaviour an environment that is both secure and challenging, a bar!
There are words in this piece of dance/theatre. Words that challenge, confront, explore, deny. They question the place of men in society, they question the behaviour of men in a socio/political environment. Pub Politics, the degradation of women, the effect of alcohol on behaviour. Relationships, male bonding, pack mentality, bullying. And, under all the issues it raises sits the need for love.
This is a show all about men! Their vulnerabilities, their weaknesses, their strengths and above all their love for each other. The homoerotic side of a group of men and their fantasies is never shied away from. Newsom has a genius for revealing motives and the outcomes of acting on something without the caution of consequence. We laugh at the conquest of Superman (you have to see it), we cry at the bullying of the man who cannot openly show his love for another man, we empathise with the need to dominate for fear of being called out as weak, and we get very angry at the lack of understanding for a woman’s perspective at the bigotry of ignorance perpetuated by the belief that social media tells the truth!
But, above all, we marvel at the brutal physicality of this group of male dancers who allow us into a world full of internalised sexual tension mixed with passionate vulnerability fuelled by alcohol, a need to be right, and a fear of being revealed as someone who cares. We see our own weaknesses given centre stage and the immediacy of this work allows us to see beauty in cruelty and love in hopelessness.
This is a wonderful reworking of what was a classic in my mind, having seen the original work in 1996. We produce some wonderful creative practitioners in the arts. It is times like this we need to remind ourselves how insightful and talented the Lloyd Newsons of this world are. Bravo, and thankyou for bringing this wonderful work back to Adelaide. What The Australian said in 1996 still stands; it’s “way ahead of anything else as the best the Festival had to offer”.
Reviewed by Adrian Barnes
Rating out of 5: 5. Can’t beat a bunch of masculine dudes ripping up a dance floor!
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Fri 13 Mar, 6:00pm, Sat 14 Mar, 2:00pm, 8:30pm, Sun 15 Mar, 2:00pm, 7:00p
Duration: 1 hr 20 mins (no Interval)
Tickets: A Reserve
$109, Friends $93, Conc $87, U30 $55, Student $50
$89, Friends $76, Conc $72, U30 $45, Student $35
Transactions fees apply.