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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: 'Compagnie XY presents It's Not Yet Midnight' at the Roundhouse, 11th April 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments


Compagnie XY presents It's Not Yet Midnight' reviewed by David James

Rating: 4 Stars

Great acrobatic shows are as much about the personality of the individual performer as the quality of the tricks. After all, if I wanted to see technically precise gymnastic routines I'd just pop along to a sports competition. But French circus collective Compagnie XY's personality isn't focused on an individual performer hogging the spotlight but on the personality of the company as a whole.

Their latest show, It's Not Yet Midnight, is a classily minimalist demonstration of the group's skills and guiding philosophy. Whether they're writhing around one another like a centipede-limbed gestalt or spiralling through the air in defiance of Isaac Newton, it's genuinely thrilling. How can your jaw not drop when you see people stacked four high on top of one another: if they were to fall their only crash mat is the waiting arms of a fellow performer or the hard stage floor.

Despite this, it's easy to get blase about acrobatic shows. Yes, it takes years of pain, sweat and dedication to be able to do this stuff and yes, it's intrinsically exhilarating to see the human body flying through the air. But let's face it, if you've seen one person doing a handstand on someone's head you've pretty much seen them all. This is where circus shows can founder: the audience will probably be familiar with the impressive feats, and showing them something new requires elite levels of skill and heightens the danger to the performers (if your star acrobat is nursing a broken leg it kinda puts the kibosh on a tour).

What smart companies do is layer the tumbling and tricks on top of a firm intellectual skeleton - giving us a bit of context. And this is precisely what Compagnie XY do - giving us a physical argument of the merits of cooperation and trust vs paranoid individualism.

Which is why we open with a mass brawl. One performer strolls onto the stage looking pleased with himself, before being roughly tackled and tossed across the stage. He lands with a thump, gets up and launches himself at his assailant. Soon the room is full of tussling performers, all beating the crap out of one another. It's an eye-opening start and a fine contrast to an evening in which life and limb hinges on trust. Would you hurl yourself backwards from a second story building on the promise that someone will catch you?


It's Not Yet Midnight stacks people on top of one another like they're pieces in some gigantic Lego set, coming up with all kinds of unlikely configurations, or using the performers as counterweights to launch backflipping people high into the air from a seesaw, or as the legs of a multi-tiered human wedding cake. This combination of strength and grace impresses even the most sourpuss cynic - the audience audibly gasping and breaking into spontaneous applause throughout.

There's a few mistakes here and there (at one point someone painfully thwacks into the floor), but the flaws only underline the point that these people or not so different from you or I. This is helped by them all wearing muted smart casual - if you saw them on the street you'd probably think they were refugees from a GAP photoshoot rather than high-octane circus performers. That these normal looking people can execute such jaw-dropped acrobatic manoeuvres only amplifies the message - we are stronger together than we are alone.

Maybe the only fly in the ointment is a slight sense of twee-ness that pervades the latter half of the show - men with lumberjack beards, suspenders and ties energetically lindy-hopping teeters right on the edge of hipster self-parody. But quibbles aside, this is a powerful, effective and concise show that's pretty much guaranteed to please. It's Not Yet Midnight gives us acrobatics where the brain is at least as important as the bicep.

It's Not Yet Midnight is at the Roundhouse until 23 April.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: 'Macbeth' at the Brockley Jack, 6th April 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments


Macbeth reviewed by David James

Rating: 3 Stars

There's a strange forced jollity to The AC Group's Macbeth. Sure, the foreground is 'yer usual parade of ambition, violence, guilt and madness but in the background people strut around with instruments, strumming out jaunty tunes that at first seem at odds with the Thane of Glamis' bloody ascent to the throne of Scotland. They play as if they know everything is rotten, but maybe if they can just sustain the party long enough everything will work out okay.

It's an uneasy interpretation suited to our uneasy times. You sense that the servants and musicians of King Macbeth's court are fully aware that their new leader is lapsing into paranoid delusion, and are trying to figure out at what point they should abandon ship and save their own skins. I imagine this situation to be playing out in the White House right now.

Macbeth has always been one of the most accessible Shakespeare plays - the witches, scheming and bloody murders entertaining 2017 audiences as much as they did the groundlings of 1606. It's a narrative that can sustain a remarkable amount of streamlining and has at its core a juicy philosophical pondering on prophecy: did the Weird Sister's message to Macbeth spell out an unavoidable future or did they kick off a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Here we see a trimmed down, two hour production that whistles energetically through the narrative, produced with a obvious focus on emphasising physical movement and adding texture through live music. William Ross-Fawcett's Macbeth is an appropriately frayed, proud man who, nonetheless, finds himself on a murderous path and feels duty-bound to see it to its end. Amelia Clay's Lady Macbeth is a sleek, stylish creature - almost but not quite able to suppress her humanity and falling apart in effectively moving fashion. Both are deliver their lines in a Scottish accent- which you might think would be a given in 'the Scottish play', but in my experience is actually rather rare.

They both deliver competent, moving performances but for my money the best of the show comes in the supporting cast, each of whom plays multiple roles. Gabrielle Nellis-Pain, primarily playing Malcolm (but also a Witch and Macbeth's assassin), has a slightly hoarse throat, but makes it work for her: a strained voice is entirely appropriate given what these characters are going through. Nell Hardy as MacDuff (and another Witch) is a performance it's difficult to tear your eyes away from. Hardy was the best thing in Pandemonium Productions' Alice in Wonderland and Fear of the Dark, and her angular body language and striking physical presence communicate precisely as much as her dialogue does.

There's a clear drive for austerity in Thomas Attwood's direction and Reuben Speed's stage design. There's no scenery save for a couple of gauze sheets and hardly any props. This has mixed results. On one hand the existing architecture of the Brockley Jack's theatre quietly evokes a medieval hall in miniature - on the other (what I'm guessing is) a restricted budget saps impact from key moments. 

So, swords and daggers are replaced with Stanley knives, which look too small on stage to properly intimidate. The final act swordfights eschew weapons completely, with the actors apparently instructed to do faux-martial arts. Though the actors commit to this, it's doesn't really look like the characters really want to kill one another. Similarly, it's a really small thing, but when MacDuff tosses what's supposed to be the severed head of Macbeth onto the stage it's clearly just a light ball of rags. I want the weight of the head to thump onto the stage - a grisly full stop to the chaos.

It leaves The AC Group's Macbeth as a compelling theatrical experience that never bores, yet teeters on the edge of real quality. A couple of nips and tucks - or simply better props - and this'd be a worthy mini Shakespeare. As it is it's 'merely' good.

Macbeth is at the Brockley Jack until 22 April. Tickets here.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: 'Chinglish' at Park Theatre, 5th April 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments



Chinglish reviewed by David James

Rating: 4 Stars

Two smart businessmen how to say different options, you can compete for top level transactions? Clear enough, right? Ah damn, what I wanted to say was 'How do businessmen who speak different languages negotiate deals with one another?' but, understandably, it gets garbled in (Google) translation. This muddling of words is the nub of Chinglish, a very funny clash of cultures farce that opened last week at Park Theatre.

Originally staged on Broadway in 2011, David Henry Hwang's play opens with a businessman giving a seminar on doing business in China. This is Daniel (Gyuri Sarossy), representing Ohio Signage, a firm with ambitions to tap into the Chinese construction boom by promising that their translations will avoid awkward/funny meme-friendly mistranslations like "deformed man toilet" instead of "disabled toilet".

Standing in his way is the regional Minister for Culture Cia Guoliang (Lobo Chan) and his Vice-Minister Xi Lin (Candy Ma). Dealing with Chinese officials whilst not speaking a word of the language proves to be a deeply confusing experience, the conversation surreally swerving between topics with no apparent rhyme or reason. Fortunately, Daniel has employed the skills of English immigrant Peter (Duncan Harte), to guide him through this unfamiliar morass of business customs.

Over two hours, the play twists and turns as misunderstandings pile up upon one another with increasingly funny results. On paper, the troubles of a failing sign manufacturer, the vagaries of Chinese business and gags about economics don't sound like particularly fruitful comedic territory, but Hwang's play draws a near constant stream of giggles from the audience.

The lion's share of these laughs are down to the mismatch between what the characters want to say and the surtitles projected above their heads. You might think that the straightforward gag of someone saying, for example, "I love you" and reading that what they've actually said is "cold sea mud" or "my fifth aunt" would diminish over the course of the play. It doesn't.



This is aided by a cast that has the intimidating job of having to be funny in two languages at once, with most of their performance unintelligible to the vast majority of a London audience. The stand out is Candy Ma, who is not just hilarious, but weaves in some emotive strands of isolation and longing into her character. Watching her gently alter her demeanour and body language depending on the situation she's in communicates precisely what her character is about, despite her tendency to angrily yell at people in fast-paced Chinese.

Running underneath all this is a critique of the differing economic strategies of China and the US. The spectre of Enron (and the 2008 economic crisis) haunts the latter half of the play - the behaviour of Kenneth Lay et al being treated more as modern business mythology in China than as a disgrace. By the end, we've realised that Chinglish presents us with a confusing paradox - the surface level behavioural conflicts between East and West are not as forbidding as they initially seem, but the deeper, ingrained cultural philosophy is almost irreconcilable.

Pondering aside, Chinglish is a pleasantly open comedy with an appropriately light touch. My barometer of good comedy is whether it gets three genuine laughs from me - this play had achieved that by the first scene change. This might not be breaking new comedic ground, but I left smiling.

Chinglish is at Park Theatre until 22 April. Tickets here.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

'Posh' at the Pleasance Theatre, 3rd April 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments



POSH reviewed by David James

Rating: 4 Stars

Laura Wade's POSH made its debut during the 2010 General Election, where the last farts of New Labour did battle with the preeningly self-styled 'compassionate' Conservatives led by David Cameron. With all that's happened since it's difficult to remember the Cameron advertised to us during that election: a man with green credentials who once went dog-sledding to examine melting glaciers, or urged the public to 'hug a hoodie'.

Wade set out to reveal the 'real' David Cameron, along with his cohorts George Osborne and Boris Johnson, in her loosely fictionalised peek into their student activities in the Bullingdon Club, a dining society that reportedly requires new members to burn a £50 note in front of a homeless person and are famous for practically demolishing the buildings they hire out.

Taking inspiration from the club's 2005 trashing of an Oxfordshire pub, the play introduced us to a gang of predatory rich boys who use the club to act out their frustrations. Though not a direct dramatisation of Cameron, Osborne, and Johnson's time in the club, it was all too easy to draw parallels between the bastards on stage and the bastards on the news.

Now POSH is back, with a twist. This is an all-women production, advertised in hot pink lettering with a punky lipstick smooch. The script remains the same, with masculine pronouns, the characters talking about jizzing and grabbing their cocks, and the misogynistic entitlement all preserved.

The immediate effect is that the club's already self-conscious masculinity becomes utterly ridiculous. It was ridiculous in the original too, but this step away from realism underlines how desperately these rich boys are trying to paint themselves as alpha male leaders of men, that are born to rule, in spite of their poisonous cowardice and inferiority complexes. 

POSH shows them hilariously failing to live up to their own standards - their much-vaunted ten bird roast is missing a guinea fowl, the prostitute hired to crawl around under the table and suck their dicks departs in disgust, and the landlord's daughter casually punctures their Wildean pretensions of wit. It leaves them looking deeply silly: women pretending to be boys pretending to be men.

The all-women cast also goes someway to dispelling the hate and disgust you feel towards the characters. When they're played by men the overriding feeling is of privileged revulsion - you start cheerily imagining the resurrection of the guillotine. But it's difficult to hate women with the same intensity. That probably shouldn't be the case, but at least for me, it is. 

What that meant is that you I felt a tiny morsel of sympathy for these monsters. Nobody's pulling out handkerchiefs, but, as they explain, they're trapped in a world that laughs at them behind their backs, are generally denied the respect they feel entitled to, and their childhood homes are full of wandering National Trust members. I mean, boo fucking hoo, let's break out the tiny violins, right? But this does at least give the Bullingdon Club a sense of purpose - to allow its members to act out the privilege they're generally forced to suppress.



Cressida Carré's confident direction ensures that this is a handsomely staged and performed production. The dinner takes place around a wooden table that subtly paints the diners as a modern Camelot, and is lit in a way that draws impressed gasps from the audience once it's revealed. A revolving floor solves any problems of blocking, as well as conveying the increasingly boozed-out state of the participants.

Performances are top class too, the cast clearly having fun with the blustering testosterone hip thrusting. My highlights were Alice Brittain's would-be Flashheart Harry, Serena Jennings' demagoguish ogre, who appears to take oratory cues from Enoch Powell, and Verity Kirk's club newbie, who provides the lion's share of the show's laughs.

The only downside (aside from some crap stage fighting) is that the show's white-hot relevance has definitely cooled with the departure of Cameron and Osborne from front-line politics (though Johnson continues to squat uselessly in the Foreign Office like some great toad). Theresa May, for all her faults, carried out a necessary purge of toffish public schoolboys when she took office, with the majority of her high-profile ministerial briefs attending state school.

Despite the programme attempting to place the play within the context of Theresa May's government and, more vaguely, alongside the Trump-induced Women's Marches that took place around the world in January, it doesn't quite fly. While it's nice to see women performing anti-feminine parts, the intention feels less to make a political point and simply that cross-casting is an interesting theatrical experiment.

And sometimes that's more than enough. POSH is a pacey, entertaining play with a barb as sharp as a scorpion's tail. Two hours and forty minutes fly by in a hail of bodily fluids, broken tables and bruised egos, the cast summoning up the thick fug of frantic performative masculinity that Wade's writing demands. Though its edge is dulled by the departure of the Bullingdon boys from Number 10, POSH is still a fearsomely crafted weapon.


POSH is at the Pleasance Theatre until 22nd April. Tickets here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: 'I Capuleti E I Montecchi' at The Vaults, 21 March 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments



I Capuleti E I Montecchi reviewed by David James

Rating: 4 Stars

"I think we know the plot already...." someone snidely (and loudly) asserted as the scene-setting surtitles appeared at the beginning of PopUp Opera's I Capuleti E I Montecchi. But do we? This is Vicenzo Bellini's take on Romeo and Juliet, and fans of Shakespeare (or even of Leonardo DiCaprio) might find themselves surprised at how this pans outs

For one thing (spoiler alert) this is a Romeo and Juliet where almost everyone survives to the final curtain, with a cast of characters pruned down to just Romeo (Flora McIntosh), Giulietta (Alice Privett), Capellio (Andrew Tipple), Tebaldo (Cliff Zammit-Stevens) and Lorenzo (Richard Immerglück), and that begins after the star-crossed lovers have dispensed with balcony-based sweet-talk and progressed into getting the hell out of Verona.

It's an opera that Shakespeare purists apparently often turn their nose up at, indignant at the liberties Bellini has taken. Yet I Capuleti E I Montecchi isn't directly related to Shakespeare's play - it's more of a second cousin. Bellini's piece actually takes inspiration from the Renaissance tale that Shakespeare adapted, sharing only a broad structural outline.

Watching Romeo and Juliet and not knowing what's going to happen is quite a startling experience. You wait for the familiar old plot beats, but then the opera zigs where you assume it's about to zag, tumbling into unfamiliar territory. Most interesting is the amplification of the hatred between the two warring families. Absent are vaguely noble sentiments of "two households, both alike in dignity" - instead the viciousness, barbarity and gangland elements are cranked right up.

It makes for a raw and brutal experience, a love story punctuated by torture and intense misery. Of course, this heightened emotion makes the perfect fodder for a kickass opera. I've seen several PopUp Opera shows over the last couple of years and have been consistently delighted by their light touch and egalitarian approach to an art form that can feel overly rigid. But this is the first time I've seen them do a tragedy and it was fascinating to see their terse style adapting to the tone.



The underground caverns of the Vault, here low-lit and stripped back, accentuate the claustrophobia of the piece. Many scenes are set in the cellar of the Capuleti home, making the bric-a-brac feel little like Tony Soprano's basement. The best bits are when the characters light themselves, as when Giulietta cradles a lamp like a baby, strikingly lighting herself from below.

This staging is underlined by a bevvy of brilliant performances. I'm no expert so can't really speak for their specific vocal qualities - but their singing communicates such specific emotions that the surtitles are rendered nearly redundant.  I specifically loved Flora McIntosh's robust Romeo with a chip on his shoulder. He stalks about the place with barely disguised contempt - his flights of passion and rage recognisably adolescent but less impactful for it. Alice Privett's Giulietta is a fine partner for him - her increasingly panicked performance the product of realising she's only a piece of meat for men to fight over.

It's a fine night out and more than lives up to the high standard the company has set for itself. Right now, PopUp Opera feels like the safest of safe bets when planning a night out, marrying technical and performative excellence to intriguingly bold takes on familiar material. You won't see another Romeo and Juliet like this anytime soon.

I Capuleti E I Montecchi is at the Vaults until 23 March, then touring. Details and tickets here.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: 'Four Thieves Vinegar' at Baron's Court Theatre

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments



Four Thieves Vinegar reviewed by David James

Rating: 3 Stars

Christine Foster's Four Thieves Vinegar is a great marriage of location and subject. The basement under the Curtain's Up is about as cramped as pub theatre gets: squeezing in a couple of rows of vintage cinema seats into a dark little room where low beams creak from the movements of the pub above. 

This makes it the perfect place to recreate a claustrophobic cell in Newgate Prison. It's 1665 and London is gripped by plague. We're only five years after the Restoration of Charles II, with the joyful return of theatre, gambling, and revelry. Now it's as if God has gone all Sodom and Gomorrah, smiting London with foul pestilence. Parish bells toll with each death; the progress of the disease marked by their increasing tempo.

Sequestered in a gloomy subterranean cell, our characters are somewhat protected from the disease. They are; unhappy alchemist Matthias (Nick Howard-Brown), a debtor who's sure that he can develop a cure for the plague if he just had the right ingredients; Jennet (Kate Huntsman), a young Christian woman sentenced to death after being inadvertently involved in a burglary; Hannah (Pip Henderson) a cynical nurse awaiting trial for peddling quack cures; and Simon (Bruce Holt), their personable jailer.

Telling the story of the plague from a limited viewpoint is a stroke of genius: allowing ample space to for expository dialogue about what's going on in the rest of London and debates on plague treatments and causes without ever seeming forced. Christine Foster has clearly done her research here, her characters talk of real plague cures, ranging from pressing chickens to their sores, smoking tobacco, consuming dried frog skins to the titular 'four thieves vinegar', a mythical concoction supposedly developed by thieves to allow them immunity while they rob the dead.

It makes Four Thieves Vinegar an effective history lesson, painting an evocative picture of what London was like when visited by an apocalyptic epidemic. As the play proceeds the world outside gradually stops as the citizens of London either flee or die. Foster writes lyrically of grass growing in the streets, abandoned houses and an ominous, pervasive silence. There's an interesting undertone of the entirety of London as a prison: one character suggests simply leaving the city for the less plague-ridden countryside (which seems like a logical plan) only to be told that countryfolk violently prevent anyone leaving the city walls for fear of spreading the infection.


But while Four Thieves Vinegar is a great way to learn about London's last great plague, it falls a little short when it comes to individual narratives. This is primarily down to a needlessly tangled knot of interpersonal relations that bogs the play down as we try to unpick them. Late revelations about secrets the characters have been concealing fall a little flat: when the historical backdrop is so compellingly drawn, it's difficult to care too much about their individual problems.

Pip Henderson's Hannah comes off best out of this - the actor having a fantastic 'period face'. This tricky-to-pin down physical quality makes an actor look like they could have plausibly walked out of the past, and this, combined with her easy delivery of Foster's impeccably researched 17th-century street slang, makes her a magnetic stage presence. The same can also be said of Bruce Kitchener's jailer, who produces a hell of a lot of pathos without actually spending much time on stage.

Howard-Brown and Huntsman are somewhat less convincing. It's nothing catastrophic, but simply that a half-crazed amateur alchemist/magician feels like an odd fit in an otherwise naturalistic drama. I don't doubt that men like him existed, but he's such an outlier that to focus so much of the play around his work detracts from the way Foster focuses on regular citizen's reactions to the plague. Huntsman, by contrast, just feels a bit waif-by-numbers, stuck in the same gear of whiny confusion through pretty much the entire play.

I love London history and Four Thieves Vinegar is very much up my street, but doesn't quite manage to marry the history lesson to the personal drama. It gets pretty damn close, but this is such an interesting moment in London history that it almost drowns out Foster's characters. Still, as far as learning and understanding the impact of the plague on ordinary citizens, it's great stuff.

Four Thieves Vinegar is at Baron's Court Theatre until 26 March.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Endless Poetry / Poesia Sin Fin (2016) directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Monday, March 13, 2017 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments


Every new Alejandro Jodorowsky film feels like a gift. Despite making two of the greatest countercultural films of all time in El Topo and The Holy Mountain, his directorial career appeared to suffer an untimely death after the 1989 release of Santa Sangre (we will ignore the 1990 director-for-hire work on The Rainbow Thief). 23 years passed, during which his most famous works were locked in legal disputes and went unseen.

It was only the long-delayed and highly praised 2007 re-release of El Topo/The Holy Mountain that made him return to the medium. After a handful of abortive projects, 2013 saw the release of The Dance of Reality, chronicling Jodorowsky's early years in Tocopilla, Chile. Endless Poetry continues the story, showing the director's emergence from adolescence to young adulthood, along with his formative artistic experiences.

Though Jodorowsky is now 88 years old, Endless Poetry shows an artist continuing to evolve. It's a film brimming over with creativity: every rigorous shot pregnant with symbolism, humanity and an abundance of imagination. It's also a neatly touching family affair: Adan Jodorowsky, his youngest son, plays his father as a young man, and Brontis Jodorowsky plays Alejandro's tyrannical father. 


Key to understanding The Dance of Reality and Endless Poetry (and to some extent all of Jodorowsky's work ) is to understand cinema not as a simulation of reality, but as a translation of the director's psychology. This is literalised in the opening moments when we return to the neighbourhood Jodorowsky grew up, now a dowdy, boarded up no man's land. With the click of a finger period photographs are placed over the buildings and a steam train chugs down the street, showing us how he sees the world.

This heightened style gives us access to the emotional truth of his memories. His shopkeeper father humiliating a thief becomes him stripping her naked in front of a baying crow, while a miniature Hitler barks orders at them. His kind mother communicates only via opera. Unpleasant relatives become Hogarthian caricatures, culminating in the young Alejandro hacking at his family tree in a crazed frenzy.

The style is best exemplified by how Jodorowsky treats his first romantic encounters. Advised by fellow artists to visit a bar to find a muse, he heads to Cafe Iris. The place is a lifeless grey mausoleum, populated by droopy headed old men served beer by ancient waiters - it looks like something out of Gilliam's Brazil. Then, bursting into the room with a swell of primary coloured exuberance, comes Stella.


Stella is a condensed ideal of Freudian desire - most strikingly because she's played by Pamela Flores who also plays Jodorowsky's Mum. She's also a chaotic feminine mystery, simultaneously sexually liberated (repeatedly tearing her blouse open as a prelude to violence) and virginal (explaining that they're to have a non-penetrative relationship). She's a hurricane of every feminine ideal - looking like the Venus of Willendorf at a rave - and works as a magnetic centre of the film. Her presence piques in an impossibly erotic scene where the two caress each other - and she reveals she has a string of skull tattoos along her spine.

Other than some loose connection between sex and death, I have absolutely no idea what the skull tattoos signify - but, crucially, not understanding something doesn't diminish its potency. This stuff is the foundation of Jodorowsky's self-developed psychomagic therapy, in which is that the unconscious mind treats symbolism as fact, leading to the conclusion that behaving in an abstract, symbolic manner can solve psychological conflicts. 

Thus the film becomes a sort of a self-induced therapy for the director - working from his own theory that one must ritually enact ones own unconscious desires in order to unclog your inhibitions and shed your unwanted mental baggage. Or, in Jodorowsky's own words (from his Manual of Psychomagic):
Punching a cushion produces relief from anger toward an abuser. But to achieve good results, the person who punches the cushion must, in a way, free herself from any morality imposed by the family, society, and culture. If the consultant does this, she can, without far of punishment, accept her (always amoral) inner urges. For example, if someone wants to eliminate his little sister, because she attracts the mother’s attention, and pins a photograph of the little one onto a melon and busts the fruit apart with a hammer, his unconscious assumes the crime is done. This way, the consultant feels liberated." 
Dance of Reality and Endless Poetry are this process writ large - the attempt of an old man to purge the last of his demons. It makes the occasional appearance of the director in the film incredibly moving - offering advice, comfort and perspective to his younger self. This reaches a zenith in the extraordinary final scenes, in which Jodorowsky and his sons come together in a collective exorcism of their petty fascist father/grandfather - finding an honest way for him to be a positive presence in their minds

Ordinarily, I'd be sceptical of a director creating a film purely as therapy - but when the end result is as compelling as Endless Poetry it's difficult to argue. As we watch the aged Jodorowsky playing puppeteer with his past via his sons, we sense the through-line of history - people, locations and culture colliding into a prickly, chaotic and often indecipherable ball of conflicting symbols. 

There aren't any other directors like Jodorowsky. There aren't very many people like Jodorowsky. I desperately hope he gets to make the final part of this trilogy. After his lengthy and knotty career, this autobiographical trilogy may well be what he's remembered for.

Endless Poetry is on DVD/Blu-ray/streaming now.

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