In this latest work from DV8, John, the central character in the piece, “deviates” from the norm very early on in life. On stage, his life goes by like a novel, full of the darkly ordinary details of everyday life: a chaotic upbringing in working classes areas of the north of England, leading to drugs, petty crime and eventually prison. In preparation for the piece, Lloyd Newson, of working-class background himself, interviewed no less than 50 men, who came to talk to him about sex, love and, indirectly, their fractured existences.
Lloyd Newson’s hard-hitting work, at the cross-over between dance and theatre, has made a name for him both in the UK and internationally. This latest show follows on from To Be Straight With You (2007), on the theme of tolerance, and Can We Talk About This? (2011), which took a frank look at the issue of radical Islam. In his work, Lloyd Newson, a former sociology and psychology student, has always opted for a detailed documentary approach as opposed to formalism, and uses physical preparation as a central element in it. John, the last piece in the triptych, goes from the general to the particular, and poses the question of what meaning can be found in one man’s life story.
Using words in movement, Lloyd Newson builds up a portrait which is as close as possible to the real. His actor-dancer performers take on the intonations and movements of real, living people and make them converse with a form of dance that is continually in search of meaning. As hybrid theatre or on-stage docufiction, John provides its anti-hero with a human voice, almost too human, as harsh as it is poignant. It is the truthfulness of this voice which rings out across the stage.