Simply the most powerful and important piece of theatre I've seen in many, many years - and the fact it's being staged at the centre of the British theatrical establishment is extraordinary and exceptionally brave it itself - my estimation of the National Theatre has leapt stratospherically - my respect for DV8 theatre company needed no boost. Most of the comments above and below cover the content and context but I will add that I thought there was a refreshing degree of balance and fairness in the choice of texts delivered - all spoken verbatim mostly from interviews made by the company - and other forms of extremism were mentioned and the voices of British Muslims were heard - notably a former lecturer and Imam threatened with execution for suggesting the Qu'ran aligned with Darwin's theory of evolution. All in all, exceptionally, magnificently danced by every performer (who rarely looked out of breath to me when delivering the dialogue from where I was sat in the second row - a major feat in itself) and asking serious questions that no major playwright or other theatre company has had the balls to address in the last decade. A major piece of theatre that everyone should try to see. I was left stunned and saddened, challenged and exhilarated. Phenomenal. - Dominic Brewer
22 Mar 12
Matt Trueman and Gareth James - I absolutely agree with your reviews.
The fact that the very art form through which the show is presented - dance and ballet - is itself disallowed by so many UK Muslim faith schools as being 'indecent' should tell us something about why such a production is vital to us today. - Max
16 Mar 12
This is a brilliant polemic, but a polemic it is, and all the more disappointing for it. This polemic also comes too late in British history to be worthwhile. It's essential message (similar to the screeds published every day in the Daily Mail), that the PC establishment has allowed crazy Islamofascists to run rampant all over British culture and values, is such common currency these days that the piece engendered a spontaneous round of applause, that erupted after the 'final' round of applause was over (the lights being on and the actors long departed), which itself followed the initial round of applause. Braying of "hear hear" and roars of approval filled the Lyttelton, and all I could think was. . . this is ridiculous! This kind of unthinking bashing of the other is surely exactly what annoys us most about the Islamofascists. I am an agnostic, who frequently wallows in atheism. I hate what Islamofascist murderers did to Theo Van Gogh, what they did to silence Salman Rushdie, and I love Stewart Lee. But there is no balance here at all. The piece gathers up every extreme thing any Muslim has ever done in Britain, and fails to balance this at all with context. It asks us to declare that we are superior to the Taliban (which I certainly DO declare), but in itself, that is crafty, because the Taliban are the most extreme followers of Islam, and they are a regime, guilty of many crimes, yet they are not themselves Islam. But the piece makes no real distinction between the Taliban and any other Muslim. Nor does it make clear that the anti-feminist nonsense peddled by dominant strains of Islam originate in our very own Western Bible, which declared woman to be merely plucked of Adam's rib, and declared in the old Testament that women should veil themselves. The truth is, if you took every bad instance of Western behaviour, and used that as a cosh to cudgel us, we would not stand up to scrutiny either. The piece suggests angrily that Islam puts the Koran before life, but frequently our Governments put oil and power and money and influence before life. Our Western beacon, the United States, which I love, sometimes seems overly influenced by evangelists who believe crazily in some kind of rapture. We in the West should definitely regard ourselves too among the spectrum of irrational crazies in the world. Tne larger truth is that all kinds of people, both religious and not, both us and them, frequently worship at the alter of authoritarianism and power because we (and they) feel insecure. Sharia Law is equivalently bunkum in my view, fulfiling some peoples' desire for that authoritarian hand, for a surrogate parent. We must not let it bully women and writers in our country, nor must we paint all Muslims into the same crazy corner. I commend this piece for starting a valuable debate. I also rate the piece 3 STARS for it's excellent choreography, in which everyone is better at silly walks than John Cleese. To explain, in this piece, if people silly walk in synch, they are fascists. If people silly walk alone, they are individualists standing up to Islamic bullying. So the silly walking comments on the selected verbatim accounts of Islamic monstrousness. Towards the end of the piece, the kind of depth I wish we could have had more of is dealt with, where 2 prominent Muslim individualists who stood up to the fanaticism become part of the discourse. But it's too little too late. This is not an illuminating piece on how human beings delude themselves in false beliefs to gain feelings of comfort, integration, community and security. What this really is is a manichean portrait of a freedom-loving West attacked by the monster of Islam, and this polemic is shouting loudly "Defend yourself, defend yourself!" It sounds like a lot like one of George Bush Jr's 'crusades' to me. - steveatplays
14 Mar 12
Well, thereís no sitting on the fence here. This latest DV8 piece has a lot to say. London Road set verbatim theatre to music; this one applies it to physical theatre, and gives it an even more documentary feel by the use of video and sound footage. It presents us with our attitudinal evolution, over 25 years, from tolerance through multiculturalism to submission to minority views imported to the west. Now here we are in 2012, in the UK, with 85 Sharia Councils operating a parallel legal system that discriminates against women.
Like London Road, you do wonder why we need music or movement to present such material, yet if you abandon rational reasoning, it does somehow add something. In this case, the cast of ten bounce, gyrate, nod and move in all sorts of ways in every combination as they speak the words of the interviewees (hardly ever seeming out of breath, though occasionally inaudible). It speaks chronologically from sacked Bradford head teacher Ray Honeyford in 1985 to the present day, though Rushdie, Danish cartoons and Dutch films taking in arranged marriage and honour killings en route. Itís presented compellingly and brought all sort of negative emotions to the surface Ė anger, rage, disgust, contemptÖ.
There is little balance in the show, but as there has been little balance in the public debate, it seems to me perfectly legitimate to Ďtalk about thisí as the title suggests. The truth is they are saying what the vast majority of people are thinking but reluctant to say for fear of seeming racist or afraid to say for fear of much worse. Iíve visited 17 muslim countries and have respected every custom and every law on every occasion, yet the opposite happens regularly when Iím at home. Talking about it is, in my book, necessary, welcome and long overdue.
Itís been fascinating to watch DV8 evolve, also over 25 years, from contemporary dance to category-defying groundbreaking work like this. Along the way, people like Nigel Charnock, Russell Maliphant, Wendy Houstoun and choreographer Peter Darling have graced their stages. Lloyd Newson has been there all along and now provides us with a very important work on a national and international stage. You might not enjoy it, you might not like it, but you have to go. - Gareth James
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