Jan Fabre, Orgy of Tolerance

Review in Issue 21-3 | Autumn 2009

The new work from Flemish multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre explodes on to the QEH stage with the untroubled ardency of a novitiate and the visceral conviction of a fanatic. Orgy of Tolerance is a two-fingered theatrical salute to capitalism and the commodification of self (emotional, bodily, moral and sexual) concomitant with immersion of global culture in the tenets of the Chicago School. It is a political diatribe, whose singleness of vision is arguably variegated by a breadth of formal dexterity that carries you laughing, shocked and exhilarated through sequences packed with surprising imagery, flamboyant choreography and emotional conviction.

For, despite a certain naïveté, this is not the work of an inexperienced theatre-maker. With more than 20 years behind him creating award-winning original, sometimes infamous, performative and sculptural events, often through his Unesco-supported company Troubleyn (‘remaining faithful’), the work is anchored in exhilarating and superlative stagecraft and a finely-tuned theatrical aesthetic that employs slick choreography, a strong sense of rhythm, great soundtrack, and some excellent performances to articulate its ideas.

Expertly choreographing the ebb and flow of wildly diverse scenes, Fabre moves his ninestrong cast between labour (prolonged, competitive and dropping hard-won new born products into a shopping trolley); a masturbation Olympics, that flicks slickly between ecstasy and agony; torture; and the consummation of a variety of ‘desirable’ objects.

It’s not subtle, nor is it innovative, but its confidence and urgency are an inspiring and moving reminder of the unique and uncomfortable hybrids artists and politics can form. Stirring stuff.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-3
p. 29