Forward or back? When it looks like you’ve gone as far as you can, and the what next is mired in mystery, what would you do?
Certainly theatre and almost dance, Are we not drawn onward to a new erA is a remarkable production. Ostensibly a story in its own right rather than drawing any particular parallels with contemporary society, Ontroerend Goed questions what happens when we reach a point where we can’t turn back?
A riotously colourful set (Philip Aguirre) brings a glorious sense of fun to the piece but also works as a wonderful metaphor to explain the appetite for stasis. The soundtrack (William Basinki / Spectra Ensemble) seems calamitous but adds scale, grandeur and scope, again elevating the small group’s squabbles and struggles to something much bigger. The performers are phenomenal for reasons that become patently clear, partway through the piece. And Jereon Wuyts and Babette Poncelot add the technical and theatrical magic.
Beyond the heart-stopping visual pictures they create, the poignant beauty of the piece is that of course, the human race is reaching a point where we can’t turn back. We’re most probably there already. So what happens then?
Ontroerend Goed have been bringing their brilliant blend of theatre to the Fringe since 2008. Once and For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen was a riotous celebration of teenage angst. In more recent years, they’ve created social commentary wrapped up as immersive theatre. They’re a company on a mission to make a stand, to mess with the status quo and force us to confront the most difficult questions of the day. This production is no exception to that hallowed tradition.
Director Alexander Devriendt doesn’t offer any answers but his exploration of the question is so surprising and so visually stunning that it doesn’t matter. And maybe this is tough love: we may well be drawn onward to a “new erA” but we won’t like what we see when we get there.