The Show Must Go On is one of the iconic works of the French choreographer Jérôme Bel where the relationship between art and life is “constantly surprising and challenging the viewer’s expectations”. The cast is made up of a thoroughly mixed group, ranging in age, gender, background and integrating disabled and non-disabled performers. The idea behind this incredibly contemporary show is to strip down barriers and labels and show its audience that there is no limit as to who can be considered a dancer. The show is meant to be inclusive for audiences, as not all of the performers on stage have any background in performance and so the audience can see themselves amongst these dancers.
Each member of the cast was told to bring in their favourite music and their choice is included in the playlist for the show; this means that the music is anything from musical theatre to golden oldies and rock anthems. The music is controlled by one DJ, Andrej Gubanov, who amuses the audience by changing CDs for each song- showing just how long it has clearly been since the audience have seen a CD.
This performance has an odd yet highly enjoyable atmosphere throughout. The stage remains pitch black, despite West Side Story‘s ‘Tonight’ blaring out. As the CD is changed to Hair’s ‘Let the Sunshine In’ the stage slowly fades into view. When the cast do eventually appear on stage – and it does feel a bit odd having sat staring at an empty stage for so long – they break into random ‘bedroom dancing’ and each has their own style. The slightly odd start is forgotten and the audience cheer and laugh along.
Each song is quite disconnected from the last and each song has its own wild vibe, whether it was free styling to ‘I Like to Move It’ or re-creating the iconic Titanic scene to ‘My Heart Will Go On’, or lifting the house lights to stare at the audience during The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’.
It is incredible what a show like this can do with just lighting effects. The stage is transformed into a yellow submarine as the stage takes the dancers ‘below deck’. Most impressive is what you can get from your audience if you stick them in the darkness with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’…
The message of this show is loud and clear and there is no denying that laughter is the best way to break down boundaries. Although the randomness of this show can feel a little uncomfortable, it is definitely a thought-provoking and entertaining night out.
The Show Must Go On is playing at Sadler’s Wells until 21st March. For tickets and more information, see the Sadler’s Wells website.