Prepare to be very confused by the Lynchian weirdness of Requardt and Rosenberg’s 'DeadClub'. Best known for their outdoor dance/theatre extravaganzas (Electric Hotel, Motor Show, The Roof), the choreographer Frauke Requardt and the Shunt co-founder David Rosenberg have this time created a more intimate indoor piece, which seems to have been designed to blow your mind.
The malleability of memory is, loosely, their theme – how the mind plays tricks on us, and how memories can become distorted by traumatic events. Audience members, all provided with party hats, stand at numbered spots around a chest-height, black and white stage. The stage floor is loaded with trapdoors, from which emerge performers in varying garb, or tiny plastic figures having their own little dramas (in a voiceover), or dead animals. A roving spotlight picks out audience members: you wait with trepidation to see what happens to them (mostly, they are sung to, or danced at – although one appears to be kidnapped). Dancers fold themselves down into holes that seem to swallow them. It’s deliberately exaggeratedly macabre.
Meanwhile, one dancer emerges, dazed, sooty and in his underpants, looking like a disaster survivor, and attempts a eulogy to an audience member. A severed arm drops from above, then later, possibly, a whole body. Or did you imagine that? If you think this sounds strange just wait til the climax – involving a dead deer, fire and pink fluffy balls seemingly with a life of their own.
There’s dark, gleefully morbid humour at play in 'DeadClub', whose five dancers revel in its absurdity, one moment hip thrusting in synch to a bossa beat (the men in knee socks and mary janes), the next, as the music morphs into choral lament, whirling through aggressive spins while dressed for a Victorian funeral. The (very) thin veneer of normality is constantly being ruptured, upended, confounded. But then, as the programme notes indicate, what fascinates Requardt and Rosenberg right now is that there is no normal – people’s memories are utterly unreliable constructs that we use to impose a kind of fake order on chaos. So presumably, if you wake up the morning after DeadClub wondering if you can really be remembering that right, you’re on the right track.