"AT ITS core, Political Mother is about extremism. Religious or political - it hardly matters. Costume and music changes allude to different times and places, implying that such behaviour is a pervasive and universal part of every society.
Advertisement: Story continues below A man gestures maniacally from a lofty perch. At one moment he is a rock star, the next he is a political despot, hurling expletives at the crowd below. With every appearance, he represents a slightly different facet of a cult personality, and choreographer/composer Hofesh Shechter plays with this plurality of character throughout the work.
The dancers alternate between prisoners and willing accomplices in an all-absorbing system. Arms upraised and heads lowered, they are cowed under the yoke of political oppression. Later, they are mindless cultists revelling in the frenzy of religious ecstasy, shaking uncontrollably like the possessed. Stomping feet and lifted knees invoke soldiers marching, and slack-limbed skipping and weaving sequences allude to the Israeli folk dances of Shechter's childhood. Legs, arms and feet pop in explosive bursts, as though the dancers are seeking, but never quite gaining, freedom. This movement powerfully portrays Shechter's themes.
Shechter's score is a barrage of live and recorded sound. Just as the characters onstage are not in control of their own lives, destinies or limbs, the sheer volume of Shechter's soundtrack forcibly knocks us from spectator into participant in his drama.
A hero of Political Mother is a brilliant and indispensable lighting design by Lee Curran. Clever, too, is the way that Political Mother exploits the vertical levels of the stage, with a line of guitarists peering down from a misty height like a pantheon of rock gods.
For a full-length work with such inherent drama, there is something unfulfilling about its structure.
It is occasionally too literal in its articulation of Shechter's ideas and the ending soundtrack of a Joni Mitchell classic is one of several times that Shechter unnecessarily spells out his vision as though he has no faith in his audience.
Despite its flaws, there is no denying the impressive theatricality of this work - or Shechter's ability to create engaging and meaningful art."