Friday, 9 March 2012

Can We Talk About This?

To the National tonight to see DV8's new show Can We Talk About This? a fusion of verbatim theatre and the companies trade mark dance style. At the heart of the work is a criticism of Islamic fundamentalism and the apologist liberal response of many multicultural commentators. On one level the work is a bold attack on cultural relativism, as it laudably affirms our freedom to speak out against acts of censorship and violence. On another it risks replacing rational debate with a reactionary challenge to political correctness in general.

It's clear that, within the context of the show, dance stands as a metaphor for freedom of expression and that by extension the extraordinary forced and contorted choreography that underscores much of the text proves to be a clear visual representation for the tangled arguments of those who bend over backwards so as not to offend. At it's best this work is thought provoking, inventive and surprising.

The premise though is tricky. If we are genuinely fearful of speaking out why are so many inches of column space devoted to the issue? Why is this show successfully touring the world unchallenged? Of course it's important to be vigilant against oppressive practice and take a stand against abhorrent acts of inhuman aggression or revenge, but towards the end of this two hour manifesto I began to long for some self-reflection and more understanding of how Muslims might contribute effectively to British society, whilst still retaining their own sense of identity.

I do understand that any society needs common law to exist, and I do think that an unintended consequence of the multicultural agenda has been to create division rather than unity, but I wonder if I was alone in feeling discomforted by the standing ovation that greeted this assertive defence of 'our' values.

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