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Monday 07 May 2018

Brighton Festival 2018 Review: Hofesh Shechter's Grand Finale @ Brighton Dome Concert Hall

Apocalyptic, driving, loud, furious, dangerous and desperate, 'a wild walz for the end of time' indeed. So begins Simon Turner's review when he witnessed Hofesh Shechter's 'Grand Finale', at Brighton Festival 2018.


Shechter throws his all at this work and boy does it show. One-and-a-half hours of head-banging zombie fury, interspersed with magpie vignettes from across the globe. 

I absolutely loved it, the very best piece I've seen by the man (and I've seen all his works at prior Brighton Festivals), and judging by the long standing ovation, so did most of the crowd.

What was the piece actually about? No idea. My partner and I came to wildly differing conclusions, the only meeting point being that it was the Grand Finale; the end of the world, chaos and confusion reigned. 

Shechter explained: "Observing the news I was curious that there is a sense that things get out of control and people get panicked and excited. 

"Everything collapses, but it is almost like a celebration. It is a chaotic state of being. An apocalypse, and yet there is something amusing about it.  


"Perhaps from an optimistic point of view, it is part of the cycle of life and evolution. Things collapse and then we build them up again." 

Well, "the building them up again" bit was not evident but the chaos, excitement and panic definitely was. 

Thankfully Shechter goes on to say: "When someone sits and watches the performance, it is about what is happening in their head, how they feel, it doesn't matter that they get it right in some way." Good, that's all right then. 


The Hofesh Shechter Company's 'Grand Finale', is the latest of almost half-a-dozen co-commissions with Brighton Festival. 

Shechter is an Israeli choreographer, and currently in his prime. The additional magic in this work might, partially at least, be explained by his decision to work with a designer for the first time. 

Tom Scutt was responsible for the minimalist set, mostly consisting of black monoliths (think Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey) that got moved around; compressing and altering the space used by the dancers. 

Used in conjunction with dry ice and minimalist lighting, the set, music and dancing were excellently combined to maximum effect. 

Unusually too Shechter used live musicians - a group of of classically trained artists playing classical pieces. 

If this makes it sounds like Bach and Mozart you'd be dead wrong. Underpinning all their mostly Reichtian compositions was a continuous complex and hard tribal beat. 

Did I mention it was loud? It was very loud, so loud that earplugs were given out at the door. I was right in my element.

This commission was a true success for both Hofesh Shechter and Brighton Festival. I count myself blessed to have been at Brighton Dome Concert Hall and seen it. Five stars. Really.

Brighton Festival 2018 runs until 27th May. CLICK HERE for more info.

by: Simon Turner




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