It is always hard to summarise the essence of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s work. It is another episode for his now recognisable community of mismatched misnomers - refugees, schoolchildren, celebrities, different cultures, races, sizes, religions and abilities - all thrown together in a structured hotchpotch of visual and aural mayhem. The company is as fearless as ever, not dwelling on anything yet managing to include so much.
There is a constant sense of the order of things gone wrong - a walking sequence that starts off as simple and efficient ends up degenerating until the cast collide, their blows becoming more malicious at every turn. They climb metal scaffolding poles and swing beneath sharp branches or squat at the bottom, petting and bullying one another. They could be schoolchildren, they could be monkeys in a rainforest. Either way, the message is of nurture - a girl rooted to a patch of soil, abused by her playmates’ ritual games, begins to grow as she is watered from a singer with a watering can.
All the elements are present - a river running along the front of the stage, a singer whipping up a frenzy with a wind instrument, the earth from which we grow and the fire of anger present within everyone. The action is set to the banging percussion of the rhythm of life, a live cello and Indian stringed instruments. The cast themselves sing songs, from peasant to popular tunes - there is even a hilarious Bollywood parody.
We are bombarded with a list of words - choices of meaning to connect with the images we see. Immigration, imagination, terrorism, physical ailments, appearance, social hierarchy - the list is endless. At one point in the proceedings we are thanked for our attention but it is the audience that should thank Cherkaoui, for another of his gloriously arbitrary works, which reminds us that we always have the freedom to make our own choices.