Get our free email newsletter with just one click

PUZ/ZLE review at Sadlers Wells London

by -

PUZ/ZLE opens with a digital projection on a stone wall of an empty art gallery, the camera gliding through never-ending doorways as Cherkaoui’s dancers, in real-time, are drawn towards the projection. They, of course, cannot pass through the image and so begin shunting into the wall, like flagrantly docile insects repeatedly slamming into a closed window.

Thus begins Cherkaoui’s abstract exploration of connectivity. The stone walls that are moved about throughout the piece (creating steps, plinths, platforms) can be seen as metaphorical walls, barriers constructed between people and cultures, and broken down through persistent, successful communication. Weaving between the walls and the dancers, Corsican polyphonic singing group A Filleta, musician Kazunari Abe and Lebanese singer Fadia Tomb El-Hage fill the air with a soporific, meditative haze of sounds that drifts porously between East and Western influence.

Throughout, the company instinctively responds to one another in a way that moves them beyond a close-knit ensemble. They spill from behind the walls like a herd, attuned to every twitch, every breath of the group and alert to any potential hazards (and there are many in the shifting set). On occasion the choreography demands that they turn on each other – at one point showering rocks into a hole in which a dancer huddles weeping – yet they never loose that sense of organic unity.

Cherkaoui may wish us to watch PUZ/ZLE and ponder why certain connections fail where others succeed, yet the palpable relationship between those on stage ensures the most striking outcome is how magical a successful connection can be. Watching people trust one another so unquestioningly is a privilege.

Production Information

Sadler’s Wells, London, April 24-25, then touring until 27 October

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Cast includes
Kazunari Abe, Fadia Tomb El-Hage, Michael Watts, Ben Fury, Louise Michel Jackson, Sang-Hun Lee
Running time
1hr 50mins

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price