Saturday, 9 April 2011

Once And For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen

Traverse Theatre
5 stars
A live version of The Velvet Underground’s I’m Waiting For My Man – a song about a New York punk hooking up with his drug dealer - is playing when the thirteen Belgian teenagers from the Ontroerend Goed company burst onstage. The taboo subject of the song is telling. Because the teenage dreams they proceed to unleash over the next breathless hour go a whole lot further than kids stuff.

As they play, fight, play-fight, dance themselves into the ground, fall over, get up again, get in and out of each other’s faces and rub people up the wrong way, these fearless youngsters on the verge of real life simply explode with a joie de vivre that can’t be faked. Alexander Devriendt’s production of a text devised with Joeri Smet is a thing of purity and unfettered delight, but delivered with such un-self-conscious precision and subtle sophistication that it’s at times hard to believe it’s real teenagers up there. Then again, now is their time, this is their world and they’ve everything to live for.

When the body paint comes out, for a second it looks like the kind of free-form happenings the 1960s were loaded with. But where those attempts to rediscover the child within went up in a puff of grown-up and indulgent smoke, this is the real thing, awash with innocence, hormone-popping yearning and a sense of wonder that’s infectious. While this is quite possibly the lost life-affirming, crazy, mixed-up lust for life you’re likely to witness this or any other year, there’s the realisation too that neither you nor those bright, beautiful sparks that light up the stage will ever be that young again. It’s a gorgeous re-awakening. Enjoy the moment while it lasts.

The herald, August 2007

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