Talk to the Demon – An incoherent masterpiece

Talk to the Demon is a performance centered around the fears and fantasies of a young child. With production house Ultima Vez, choreographer Wim Vandekeybus and his artists present us a beautiful nightmare. A tour de force, as comical as it is tragic, which leaves behind a stunned audience.

Talk to the demon is embodied by six performers. These are not just ‘dancers’ as this work is not just a piece of ‘modern dance’ but a true interdisciplinary spectacle. It moves its way through two hours of startlingly familiar visions in the way dreams or nightmares do, in fragments and inexplicably linked. Save for the connection that they have all seemingly sprung from the mind of a child, the so called centrepiece of the performance.

Although there is dancing, the work is not set to music, which renders the atmosphere the more absurd. This does not mean the performers perform their magical choreography in silence. Vandekeybus has placed the movement to a chilling soundtrack, sometimes synchronizing with the action, sometimes jarring, but all the more exciting.

Because of the initial alienation, Talk to the Demon needs a little while to warm up, as the unsuspecting audience is treated to both gruesome (one of the dancers is strung up by his feet, others are beaten) and funny scenes. However, by mid show it reaches a pitch perfect sequence of dance, movement, performance and theatre that delivers us blow after blow. It is a shame that Talk to the Demon loses its flow two thirds in when it meanders into the realms of the violently pedantic. The confusion this creates is palpable during the utterly absurd moment of curtain call, the audience – who receives no prompts from the cast to start clapping – engages in choppy and uncertain outbursts of applause and at a certain moment some audience members decide to up and leave during intermittent claps and cheers.

All in all we forgive it its flaws. Though Talk to the Demon is too long and too disjointed, the elements that work, the pieces that affect you, don’t do so lightly. This is a highly inspirational work of art with some ground breaking interpretations of the moving body. But it is definitely not for children as it touches upon not only a child’s fears and fantasies, but much more strikes the adult audience in the heart. Go see it, if you dare.

Seen on 8-10-2-14 at KVS

Next shows on the 9, 10 and 11 october at KVS

Talk to the Demon tours Belgium and Europe in 2014 and 2015

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I'm a Dutch writer/poet/walnut eater living in Brussels. I enjoy theatre. Playing, writing, watching, reviewing it. I have no children, no dogs but I do have a set of dead cactuses.

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