Review: 7734, Jasmin Vardimmon Company, Jerwood Dancehouse, Saturday May 21

7734, Jasmin Vardimmon Company, Jerwood DanceHouse, Saturday May 21

To examine The Holocaust is to look into ourselves. Israeli-born Jasmin Vardimmon’s powerful production reminds us of the mechanical and personal brutality of The Final Solution through the prism of civilisation and petty intolerance.

7734 (‘hell’ upside down) opens with a conductor performing the overture to Wagner’s Tannhauser. This high art opening is stripped back to a landscape of clothes (the bodies and effects of the dead) and a watchtower. The death camp.

This stripping away of civility, from a concert, a banal holiday balcony conversation or a beach party, to the brutal realities of the camps, repeats throughout the performance as the patina of life is unmasked to show the reality of our worst capabilities. Beyond the veneer of normal conversation the roots of intolerance are revealed and the link made to the camps. Vardimmon tries the Human Race and finds us all guilty.

For all its darkness ‘7734’ is very rewarding and its two-plus hours pass with the audience spellbound by a series of well-linked scenarios, interspersing dance with acting, video and clever use of set and metaphor throughout. Yunkyung Song’s performance is particularly striking, as is Olga Clavel-Gimeno’s; the former’s harrowing grief, bookended by the cruelty of the latter’s performance – both exhausting to watch.

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The camp scenes use a sparse electronic score, (at odds with the ‘civilised’ episodes), at one time punctuated by the official’s death-sentence stamp, at others by the machine-gun of the sewing machine.

The last five minute scene has burnt into my memory - one after one the cadavers of the dancers are tossed into a grave, closing with Brian Eno’s ‘Ending (Ascent)’. After the well deserved applause the audience left in almost complete silence. Guilty as charged?

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Andrew Cann

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