ISRAEL FESTIVAL REVIEW: Hofesh Shechter – Political Mother Jerusalem Theater, May 29

In contrast to earlier performances in Europe, Jerusalem Theater spectators didn’t get ear plugs as the performers entered.

HOFESH SHECHTER’S ‘Political Mother.’  (photo credit: GABRIELE ZUCCA)
HOFESH SHECHTER’S ‘Political Mother.’
(photo credit: GABRIELE ZUCCA)
The meteoric rise of Hofesh Shechter from a Batsheva dancer and music student moonlighting briefly with Yasmeen Vardimon’s company to an international choreography star happened almost instantaneously.
Embraced by London’s best venues, he could soon fly high with plenty of support and generous budgets. Political Mother (2010), is his first full evening work.
The work opens on a dark, smoky stage, with a tense, slow-motion hara-kiri by a samurai, set to Bach concerto.
Sixty seconds later blasting music and lights switch the mood completely and Shechter rock-dance ignites the stage with six drummers, five electric guitars on elevated levels, and a dozen or so dancers. Soon the stage oozed with rhythms and rock riffs in a high-decibel musical extravaganza.
At times, the bass was so strong my chair trembled in sync with the score.
In contrast to earlier performances in Europe, Jerusalem Theater spectators didn’t get ear plugs as they entered.
Needless to say, the dynamic dancers are totally committed and shifted easily from larger scenes with loose unisons to chaotic composition that soon turned into subdued, intimate encounters, incorporating those individualistic elements.
The show’s name is a bit misleading.
The work is very political on several levels, yet does not promote a specific political agenda but rather seems to protest and expose. It refers to totalitarian regimes, to adoration of power, to subversive acts, poverty and corruption of power not by text, but through movement and theatrical elements including strong support of the distinct lighting effects.
In previous versions, the speeches were loaded with challenging content; in Jerusalem we received the safe gibberish option. Also, the folk dance Hora scene disappeared.
Political Mother is a strong show, where movement and music were both devised by Shechter, who writes the score for all his works. He deploys a loose, interchangeable structure based on short fragments, connected often with repetitive elements and phrases adapted to various contexts, which keeps it glued together, solidifying the joints. It was a powerful, worthwhile choice by the festival.