Dulling of the Senses

A review of De La Guarda from Argentina. Created and directed by Pichon Baladia and Dicky James.

The Multimedia company and Partner Communications present in the Cinerama Theater in Tel Aviv: De La Guarda from Argentina. Created and directed by Pichon Baladia and Dicky James

In terms of production, organization, generating expectations, design of space and action, this is an astounding spectacle. The Cinerama Theater in Tel Aviv, which had become a stage for rowdy political gatherings, has now been reborn as a glittering reception area for parties and a mammoth hangar.

It begins in almost complete darkness, with barely audible thunder. The lights go down, and a huge swath of cloth spread out above the heads of the viewers is dimly lit. You feel as if you're under an immense aquarium through which living creatures are fluttering, and within moments the sky above is transposed into a firmament, strewn with thousands of stars, and then into the crust of a gigantic placenta, through which human-like bodies feel their way outwards, though we are not sure if they are struggling or hiding themselves.

It's practically a work of poetry, preparing you for the conception of the universe in front of your eyes.

The image is that of the creation of the world - the spirit was hovering on the face of the waters, and darkness was upon the face of the murmuring deep (with the spectators inside it), and the creatures in the water, and the illumination if the heavens, and the creation of man.

There may be no definable moment of "And then there was light," but there are flashes and flickers and radiances, and thundering drums and basses (and a human voice not of this world, although you do see the person from whom the voice issues). It sets the nerve-endings of the soul aquiver, and physically stirs you, deep in your loins.

From that moment on, chaos once again reigns: skilled acrobats fly above the heads of the audience, coupling and drawing apart, climbing and seeming to fall, grabbing hold of and setting to flight those spectators who are willing to take part. And the massive, rhythmic and violent tumult continues, with all of the senses (except maybe the sense of taste) engaged, as you are bidden and maneuvered (by a skillful, proficient production team) to move from place to place, to become part of the human mass that watches and moves as a single bloc devoid of unique identity, while all along the showers sweep down from above, and the members of the troupe lash themselves in their (tightly bound) bodies against screens, in a madness of sustained ecstasy.

And you are down below, part of the mob, your senses dulled, your head turned upward, unable not to gape in wonder at the super-sensual event (about 70 minutes, without a moment to breathe, for anyone present). As if the world has reverted, after its birth, to a condition of prolonged chaos. Perhaps it is a statement about our world, in which we scurry to and fro, lost in an absolute dulling of the senses.

De La Guarda will be performing at the Cinerama Theater in Tel Aviv on Mon-Thur, Sat at 21.00; Thur also at 00.00; Fri at 15.00, 22.00.