Can We Talk About This, Lyttelton

 

Can We Talk About
This?
-- a broadside by Lloyd
Newson and his dance company DV8 against the allegedly soft and supine liberal
propritation of Islamic fundamentalism and its threat to (amongst other things)
free speech -- should be subtitled Can We Dance About This?

I'm afraid that, after watching this determinedly provocative, technically fascinating, expertly executed and crudely bludgeoning show, I was left with these answers.  To the first question: no, because the piece does not want to start a dialogue.  Set in a generic community centre-cum-gym and moving chronologically from the case of Ray Honeyford, the hounded Bradford head teacher who, in 1984, sparked a furious controversy with an article when he published an article questioning multiculturalism, the evening is a tendentiously constructed tract posing as a dance-enhanced polemic. 

To the second question: the answer would be: not if you want clarity of argument as opposed to a kind of running terpischorean commentary that compounds the built-in bias.  The dancing is sometimes a joy to watch as the populous cast bob about the stage in what looks like a cross between an impersonation of a metronome and a prize exhibit from one of the Ministry of Silly Walks.  Or when, at some absurdly optimistic bit of liberal planning, they nound around jumping  for fey joy like a multitude of ("hello sky! hello sea") Fotherington-Thomases.  But when it's not looking abitrary, there's far too much glaring manipulativeness. It's true that her televised dispute with Christopher Hitchens about Salman Rushdie's knighthood was not Shirley Williams's finest hour.  All the same, in its invidious staging here, William seems to taking part in a variant of Spitting Image,while Hitchens, who does some expressive angular things with a symbolic book, is granted the dignity of being in a modern dance.

There are fantastically difficult and important issues at stake here.  They are dealt with in an undeniably powerful but also infuriatingly facile manner.  By chance, the night before, I had seen the recent Iranian movie, A SEPARATION, an instant classic of the excruciating and intractable tangles you get into when devout and secular Muslims clash over an incident that flushes all their prejudices to the fore.  There were moments as I watched the DV8 piece, which feels a lot longer than its eighty minutes, when I fancied that this is what hell would be like: forced to be an eternal witness of a show that disqualifies itself as an adequate examination of considerations you ache to see clarified.  There is a protest at one point by the most glaring "plant" you have ever encountered in a theatre.  Enough said.

To 28 March 2012 , 020 7452 3000; boxoffice@nationaltheatre.org,uk
 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering