I don’t believe in outer space, by William Forsythe and performed by The Forsythe Company had its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells last night.
After turning 60 in 2009 Forsythe created this piece as an examination of life and mortality. The stage is covered in balls of black tape, suggestive of meteorites, and a telescope sits at the back of the set. However, Forsythe claims that the work is not about astronomy, but rather about the space that exists when you look back on your life.
Dana Caspersen opens the show with a hilarious and disturbing monologue. She is a truly extraordinary performer, and her highly physicalised tale of two neighbours meeting becomes a darkly humorous running joke as she assumes the role of our unofficial guide and goes on to steal the show. A quirky and nonsensical journey of ping-pong games, song lyrics and an incomprehensible science lesson ensues. The work contains compelling characters; a jazz teacher, a nutty professor and a pirate, all enlarged and opaque, reminiscent of Commedia del Arte. There is a dreamlike quality and the movement is characteristically distorted with the bodies of the 18 phenomenal dancers rarely looking human.
The work is simultaneously humorous and disturbing. The entire experience is somewhat paradoxical and, at times, unsettling. It is haunting, dramatic and sinister whilst light-hearted and funny. Forsythe shows us a life story that is random, confusing, amusing and sad. He sends up the seriousness of his existential subject and presents a hyper-representation of the nonsensical nature of life.
Like life, the show ends with death as Casperson runs through a list of things that will be no more in a bleak, human and poignant monologue. She eventually disappears into outer space, to eerily booming Gloria Gaynor lyrics….the perfect end to an extraordinary work, and indeed a pretty good way to go.
By Hetty Blades