A burlesque piece where theatre, dance and circus are reconciled with performance

We here follow the recurring metamorphoses of the ‘heart of limbo’ (‘ombilic des limbes’, Artaud), coloured with the tints of Indonesia, a country close to Artaud’s heart and where – in Surabaya – Grace Ellen Barkey was born. This choreographer has been at Jan Lauwers’ side ever since Needcompany was founded. It is her life story that imbues Chunking with the brilliant fantasy and colourfulness that mark the piece from the moment it starts. What we see is more in the sphere of the weird and wonderful than the banal; we resolutely say farewell to reality and plunge into the wildest and rudest dream world. This travelling circus has no cardboard scenery, but rather an accumulated heap, an installation in the literal sense, consisting of panels covered with brightly-coloured wallpaper. This excess leads to its being moved about, to building games and to the division of the stage. Theatre, dance and circus conspire with performance, that subjective and expressive act. The four actors, alternately obedient and naughty, play like children with the orders handed out by the laughing, gambling-addicted ‘circus director’. The reference to Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights enriches the choreographic palette and sets the tone for the ludicrous collective sex scenes for bodies and vases – currently the most Flemish of props, and in fact the fundamental element in Jan Fabre’s l’Histoire des larmes, which opened at the Avignon Festival. The crazy dream in Chunking emerges as a waltz in three-four time to music by Maarten Seghers (who also appears onstage), Giacinto Scelsi and Sonic Youth: its starts off cheerfully, then gradually subsides into the disappearance of any form of human figure and the appearance of bouncy, affected and annoying animal movements – the marvellous costumes and masks are by Lot Lemm, as is the set. The last word is for Jan Lauwers, who hits the nail on the head: ‘Chunking is an elusive and slightly hysterical show.’ And that’s exactly what we liked about it.

Ensemble weNEEDmoreCOMPANY Invisible Time Contact
Jan Lauwers Grace Ellen Barkey Maarten Seghers performing arts visual arts Film
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