To Be Straight With You, Lyttelton Theatre, London

DV8 graphically maps the intolerance of sexuality worldwide – and finds it too close to home

Lloyd Newson hates dance. At least, he hates its feel-goodiness and its inability to handle facts. He wants to shake people up, engage them politically, make them think – and to this end he has melded speech to the body in motion.

Conformity, gender identity and consumer culture have all come under scrutiny in his work with his company DV8 (its very name a call to arms). The insights have often been trenchant and funny. However his latest show, To Be Straight With You, takes on vicious anti-gay dogma, and a natural reaction is to think not merely that he's preaching to the converted, but that he's wasting his time.

For the first five minutes, this writer's prejudice was confirmed. A barrage of hate speak from an actor-dancer posing as a Jamaican followed by a recorded reggae song advocating the lynching and burning of gays is so repellent that you wonder if repetition isn't compounding the crime. There follows a rather preachy lecture about the global extent of homophobia, made suddenly more palatable by a mysteriously beautiful giant globe. As the "lecturer" speaks of the 85 countries that criminalise homosexuality, and the seven in which the death penalty can be imposed, those sections of the virtual world turn blood red. At the flick of a wrist, the globe spins in a dark blur. The contrast between this alluring object and the abhorrent facts still burns in the memory.

But what really switches the receptors on is the realisation that this isn't just horrible stuff happening far away under mad, bad regimes. It is also happening here. All the words in the show are drawn verbatim from interviews conducted in British towns and cities. Granted, the most terrifying stories are those of men and women from immigrant cultures, both aggressors and victims of aggression. But the underlying message is that, in some neighbourhoods, local religious custom sometimes supersedes the law. Consider the 15-year-old from Hull who, after telling his Muslim parents that he was gay, found himself cornered by a family member in an alley and stabbed.

It sounds gruesome, but among the tales of bigotry and fear are glints of joyful defiance. The Hull boy's story is related by the hugely appealing Ankur Bahl while continuously skipping, the rhythm of the rope responding to the pace of events in the narrative. It is such a feat of virtuosity it makes you laugh out loud. Bahl's Hull accent is spot-on, too: the whole sequence is a tour de force.

More obscurely, a dancer spins mutely around the stage to the recorded testimony of a 70-year-old female rabbi who confesses herself tired of fighting the destructive aspects of religion. A hard-line Christian talks about how he isn't really gay, while graffiti is chalked around him on a wall, deflating his claims.

Technically, the show is wonderfully slick, and full of visual surprises. It has flaws: some of the speech is indistinct, and yes, the type of person who attends this type of show will hardly need persuading. But it's a jungle out there, and we do need to know about it, and the extent to which British fairness and freedom are threatened.



'To Be Straight With You' continues to 15 Nov (020-7452 3000)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
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.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits