7734 at Jasmin Vardimon online
A woman in a long, grey nightie spins on the floor as three performers in black striped suits surround her, one holding a lamp over her as the one source of light on the stage. Her movements are like that of a caged animal: jumping up with arms lifted just to fall back to the ground, lunging for escape but finding none.
One performer pulls her up as the others pile her with black rubbish bags, even putting one between her teeth. She staggers forwards, the bags falling until she coughs and falls to her knees, shrieking like a monkey and ripping the bags open to reveal red cloth. She stands, exhausted and gaping, as the guards rip the bags around her, surrounding her with blood-red cloth, which looks like a pool of blood – or guts.
7735 is an experimental mix of contemporary dance and dramatic sequences complemented by a combination of ballet music and naturalistic, sinister sound effects. The music often combines instrumentals with more confusing noises – one score sounds like a saw screeching alongside musical instruments – to create a sinister and lingering effect. The performers also add to the sound, at one point creating a waterfall of ‘”shm-hu-ha” sounds.
The stage is dimly lit and flanked by a tall, lighthouse-style structure accessible by fireman’s pole. Clothes are used heavily in this performance – washing lines trap a performer during one scene, pushing her back as she tries to escape, while in another, mounds of pyramid-shaped clothes dance in time to the music.
Power play is a major theme in this performance. Some sequences have a puppet master effect: a woman suspends her leg in the air and as it falls, the performers behind her also fall, moving in perfect unison with her body. Many of the numbers have a prison camp feel about them as guards, distinguished by black striped uniforms, terrorise the other performers. A seemingly drunk guard staggers, playing “eenie, meenie, minie moe” with the others, making them line up, throwing one performer to the floor in a shocking thump and slapping another around the face.
The role of art is also explored here: the piece questions whether it should show our imperfections and make us angry or if it should comfort us by showing us the good side of life. The cruel, judgemental and controlling side of human nature is amplified multiple times. At one point, three performers “erase” people and structures that they don’t deem worthy of their holiday resort, while at another a woman is seemingly raped and murdered.
There are numerous Nazi references – from the salute and goose step to a tale about someone’s grandfather who had to hide in a box and doesn’t want to talk about it. Some parts of 7734 are uncomfortable to watch, while others are strangely humorous. It’s hard to tell what to make of this show, but perhaps that’s the point. Is it art for art’s sake or does it make a poignant point about the human condition? That’s up to you to decide.