Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde! Sadler's Wells, London

Is that a naked dancer on your lap, or are you just pleased to see me?

Try a little tenderness, goes the Otis Redding song.

And that would seem to be the message being groped for in a bizarre piece of nude theatre created by Montreal's Dave St-Pierre and performed by 24 caution-to-the-wind Canadians. But this is an odd way of going about it.

The houselights are up and the Sadler's Wells stage is teeming with bearded men, naked but for fake long blond hair whose ends they twiddle in a parody of girlish bashfulness. This pose they alternate with bouts of running en masse across the stage squawking in falsetto, like extras from Monty Python. "We got grants for this show," confides Sabrina, the evening's fully dressed compere. "As you can see we didn't invest it in the costumes."

But this isn't just nudity at a safe distance. Before long, it's literally in your face as the bearded bimbos clamber into the stalls to sit or lie uninvited in people's laps, scramble across the tops of seats, exposing their meat and potatoes as they go, and gleefully rub their bottoms against anything that doesn't resist. What's astonishing is that no one does, nor, as far as I am aware, make a dash for the exit.

Instead, there's much raucous laughter, increasingly hysterical as the company's female cohort, who have been shrieking fully dressed from the sidelines (whether in reprimand or encouragement it's hard to tell), fall upon each other in savage fights, ripping off each other's clothes and underwear. This violent bacchanale continues for a full 12 minutes – pushing way beyond the bounds of comedy and into the territory of serious alarm. It ends as suddenly as it began, as the men retreat to the stage where they sit and masturbate into their wigs.

Quite how the show justifies itself as dance theatre isn't the issue so much as the question: why? What, beyond supplying cheap burlesque shocks, does Dave St-Pierre think he's doing? (Sabrina, in a telling aside, remarks on how dancers are the ultimate cheap labour – "They'll do anything you tell them to, and for peanuts!").

The tone darkens markedly after the cast put their clothes back on. In a crude steal from Pina Bausch the men shout "Frappe-moi!" and hit themselves hard in the face, over and over. In another sequence, Sabrina is offered the choice between a man and a chocolate cake. She takes off her knickers and goes for the cake.

Despite the plea implicit in its title, there is a good deal more bordel than tendresse in this long and often tediously barbaric show. Only in the final minutes does peace descend, as the 24 dancers, naked once more (but who really cares?) skid silently about the wet stage surface like seals at play, finally curling up as happy couples.

Next Week:

Jenny Gilbert looks for some light relief in ENB's Gershwin extravaganza

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?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
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.

    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
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam