Review: Dancing in the house of thrash

A seventy minute portrait of non-stop heavy metal dance fills the stage at The Birmingham Rep, reports Richard Lutz.


There are four thrash guitarists, three relentless drummers, a dozen dancers swaying under the blitz of heavy metal and, to top it off, a fascist leader in shadow howling to his own evil moon.

Political Mother, performed by the Hofesh Shechter Company, is a visceral picture of a world we don’t want to see – where repression grinds the troupe into submissive  movement. It is non-stop. The troupe could be subjected prisoners, captured soldiers or even, tellingly, part of the mass immigration wave pouring onto Greek islands in fear and shock.

Unknown-3The music is loud, very loud. And as the dancers sway in a pre-historic movement akin to what our cave dweller ancestors must have performed, you realise that even an orgy of crazed heavy metal is a form of folk music that people can react to. And that is why the digi-message “Where there is pressure there is folk dance.” is emblazoned on the backdrop towards the end.

This is not an easy piece to digest in  an hour though there are beams of lyricism dotted throughout. It is complex and questioning. And it does drag a bit towards the end, and, at times, seems repetitive.

But as the dancers sway at the end to the sweet charms of Judy Collins’ hippy anthem Both Sides Now, you realise that Shechter and his troupe are signalling a speck of hope and light in this political world which is overshadowed by repression.

The work continues tonight* and is part of the city’s International Dance Festival which continues through the month. More information on

*Saturday 14th May, Birmingham Rep 0121 236 4455