Betroffenheit review – human suffering transformed into heroic brilliance

Sadlers Wells, London
Jonathon Young and Crystal Pite collaborate to turn a traumatising experience into riveting drama and virtuosic dance

In 2009, Jonathon Young’s teenage daughter died with two of her cousins in a fire in a holiday cabin. Simply to write the words is to flinch from the awfulness of the event. Yet the actor and playwright has collaborated with choreographer Crystal Pite to create a two-hour piece of dance theatre, which addresses the experience of human suffering with raw and heroic brilliance.

Betroffenheit is a German word that evokes the physical and emotional stasis of shock, and while Young’s text moves far beyond the specifics of his own story, his role in the work is that of a man traumatised by some terrible accident. During the first half he’s locked inside a bare industrial room that is the hellhole of his grief and guilt, and here he is tormented by a play of (his own) recorded voices. There is the voice that urges him to relive the accident and find some saving epiphany from its tragedy, the one that urges him to leave the room and get on with his life, and the voices that urge him towards the numbing, addictive pleasure of drugs.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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