Wim Vandekeybus' Mockumentary of a Contemporary Saviour takes place in a distant future, where a destructive force seems to have eliminated life on Earth. In this post-apocalyptic universe, six characters from different parts of the world, with varied body types and artistic backgrounds are confined in an empty space with no walls, entry or exit. The setting consists of a circle on the floor, surrounded  by small cabins that resemble wombs in which the characters return periodically to sleep. On top of that, an immense disc hovering above the stage moves oppressively towards the characters as the piece develops.

The Mockumentary is not exactly a dance performance, but rather a piece that brings together Vandekeybus' visceral choreographic language and dialogues that seek to answer existential questions such as “what is life?”, “why are we here?”, “does God exist?” and so on. What is interesting in this work is the desperate need of the characters to make sense of their existence and actions. There must be a reason for them to be together in this place, and there must be a way to get out of it – hence the importance of the saviour in the play. These ideas are questioned by the wise man Saïd (Saïd Gharbi, who has performed for Vandekeybus since 1994), a blind man who is capable of looking into the soul of the other characters.

The relationship between the six survivors, who see themselves as the chosen ones – is quite disturbing: as in Sartre’s Huis Clos (No Exit), the individuals do not really seek to help each other, but torture themselves with accusations and mockery. This fragile and malfunctioning community is disturbed by the abrupt arrival of a seventh member: Walter, a psychologist (Daniel Copeland) who literally crashes onto the stage. Throughout the piece, he persuades or coerces the characters to reveal their fears, traumas and hopes. Walter is a complex figure, capable of affection and complicity but also of despise, racism and cruelty. Nevertheless, the text is quite uneven, which renders the performance unnecessarily tedious. The dialogue between Walter and the Kung Fu fighter Yun Liu is too long (“Who are “Yun”?”) and did not provoke more than polite smiles from the audience; the text itself and the idea of a saviour that will deliver mankind from suffering is a bit common and for the most part did not trigger a strong reaction from the audience.

There are, by contrast, exquisite moments where we can see the essence of Última Vez’s identity: the interaction of dancers and non-dancers, the raw physical and verbal language that marks Vandekeybus’ works, and the powerful (sometimes blunt) messages capable of confronting the audience with their own fears, and their dark side. The interaction between Walter and Marcia – amazingly played by the Russian-trained Maria Kolegova - is probably one of the most fascinating moments in the performance. Mixing percussive movements, precise turns and sharp long lines, Marcia shares her failed love stories with the audience and literally catches the eye of the public. The final duet, when Yun and Flavio dance “to create life” is unusual given the physique of the two dancers but at the same time harmonious and fluid. May be there is a reason to have hope and faith in the future.

***11