Hofesh Shechter’s Grand Finale brought visions of an apocalyptic future to a stage drenched in a dense haze which roiled as if laden with dust and grit. Coloured at times in acid hues associated with toxic chemical fires and devoid of any hint of flora or fauna, this was a bleak void, a place of last resort.
Ten inhabitants of this place moved restlessly and almost continuously through a landscape littered by moveable panels, shifting the panels about to create sheltering walls, communal rooms, claustrophobically tiny cells, and personal niches. Their movement was vigorous, dynamic, driven, an intricate pastiche of folk and tribal dance, rave culture, sports and military drills, mixed in with everyday movements such as running, jumping, falling and sliding. Most often their restless prowling seemed without purpose, simply a way of filling in the hours til the end of life as we know it.
Despite the aura of threat, violence and desperation, this seemed a kinder, gentler world than the apocalyptic visions usually depicted. There were moments of great beauty and flickers of rapture and joy mixed in with periods of partying and celebration, and some quiet moments of meditation and prayer. But the awareness of ultimate doom slowly increased, and grim motifs soon dominated interactions – mouths fixed wide open in silent screams, dead female corpses hanging bonelessly in the arms of waltzing men or being dragged around behind them.
Five musicians also featured as performers in this work, moving about the stage while playing live classical music by Lehar, Tchaikowsky and Zaldwich and post-classical music composed by Shecter, intermixed with his pre-recorded percussive and at times booming, howling soundscore. During intermission they entertained the crowd with raucous, jolly klezmer music, much to everyone’s delight
The opening night audience honoured the vitality and commitment of the work’s performers with a standing ovation.