Pros: The thought that went into the movement, the production, set, music, costume. Brilliantly executed, bringing serious topics to the forefront to force us as a society to address them.
Cons: Although the movement was amazing to watch, at points it repeated the ‘puppetry’ physicality a bit too much.
Jasmin Vardimon and her company’s work are all about making the body political. Justicia comments on the injustice in our legal system. 7734 was representative of Vardimon’s own experience as a descendant of Holocaust survivors. Medusa was no different. It commented on some of the toughest issues prevalent in today’s society, climate change, sexual assault and the misogyny women face every day.
With themes as sensitive as gender politics, Vardimon and company successfully created a piece that was raw and real. On paper, if I read that a piece of dance theatre consisted of a man literally moulding a woman into his object of desire, I would have said it is stereotypical and overdone, but this was anything but. The show had harsh visuals of women wrapped up in plastic, then being groped by men. The deconstruction of history and the unhappy housewife was almost a painful image, but one needed to really gauge the velocity of the issue. The execution of this movement and the power the men had over these women was a shocking but powerful image. It gave off the exact reaction it intended.
Vardimon’s signature script work and high intensity movement was prevalent throughout this show, and never disappointed. The text, co-written by Joshua Smith, narrating how a woman will forever live in a man’s shadow, shows just how well the choreography worked with the text. A female dancer lay at Smith’s feet following and copying his every move. Sexual assault imagery was shocking, yet the captivating movements meant you couldn’t pull your eyes away from the stage.
The show opened with an acknowledgement to climate change, with the sea being made up of plastic sheets. My personal favourite image was the male politician with a dustbin for a head literally spewing rubbish all over the stage. These images were all aided by intensive and innovative physical theatre.
With all the bodies moving on stage, it has to be said, the production aided this amazingly and really brought the show to life. The soundtrack complemented the movement, with a few chart hits put in to add impact. The use of dark lighting in parts to create illusions such as a girl floating in mid-air almost brought me out of my seat. The debris falling from the sky and then becoming the earth from which a woman was pulled was stunning. And finally, the power plant, smoke-filled setting contrasted and complemented the movement in many different ways.
The success of this 80 minute production has to partly be put down to all the background research that was clearly evident throughout. In the myth of Medusa many people forget that she was actually raped by Poseidon and cast away by Athena. This show carefully represented how strong women, like Medusa, are not the problem. We are reminded that Medusa isn’t the monster she is made out to be, but in reality a victim cast aside out of shame. Not only did Vardimon focus on the myth of Medusa, but the meaning of Medusa in over 28 different languages. Every part of this production commented on society in a brilliant way.
With tickets ranging from £12-£32, this show in the beautiful Sadler’s Wells, home to dance theatre, was an eye-opening experience.