Christopher Walker reviews Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography

Certain theatre creators hate critics. They never stop writing or abusing us after a bad review.

But what is also becoming increasingly clear is that a large number also seem to hate their audience.

Indifference to audience reaction is being substituted by something much darker. For them it may be a determination to shake you into seeing the world in the creator’s own particular way, at whatever cost. But for you this can sometimes be painful.

Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography is certainly experimental. But it is also a dark, discordant and depressing piece, that becomes an endurance test.

Searchlights are shone directly into the audience’s eyes. Not once or twice. But repeatedly. You feel like you are having laser eye surgery.

The ‘music,’ by a female ex-steelworker Jlin, is a series of crashes and hammerings punctuated with screams. At times so loud you think your ears will bleed.

“Autobiography doesn’t have to be nostalgic or commemorative “Wayne McGregor says. Or indeed “something that makes narrative sense.” He’s true to his word there.

Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography is experimental but dark and discordant, Mr Walker says (Picture: Ravi Deepres)

He has generated 23 “volumes of his life” supposedly in reference to the 23 pairs of chromosomes contained in the human genome.

These are random memories and favourite hits. “A school photo, a poem about Icarus, a family history of twins, an Oliver de Sagazan film…” The audience has no hope of knowing which is which. Not least because a computer algorithm sequences them and the dancers randomly for each performance.

No two performances are ever the same, so McGregor’s always “curious as to how the algorithm will shape the choreography differently from how I might have done.” Which makes you wonder whether the choreography credit shouldn’t go to the anonymous computer rather than him.

There are some good ideas, but they are swamped by this artificial straitjacket.

The dancers, yes somewhere in all this are truly talented if neglected performers, are forced into a series of acrobatic gestures and ‘voguing.’ There are some glimpses of strong dancing by Salvatore de Simone and Mariano Zamora Gonzalez.

Maybe certain choreographers hate the dancers too.

Pictured top: Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography (Picture: Ravi Deepres)

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