When I heard that the word 'labor' was in the title of this play, my curiosity was aroused. Was this going to be an examination of the fruits of labor spoken of in detail in Das Capital? Marx is tricky territory for art to examine and I’m excited by shows that take up the challenge.
But rather than pontificate to us like most political art, I think Miet is taking materialism at face value and has produced a work that was very concerned, literally, with material, i.e. paint, Styrofoam, buckets, sparkles and musical instruments.
The show for me was literally about the fruits of labor. Bouncing basketballs is labor. Spinning in a circle is labor. In contrast to Marx who based his project on the assumption that the value of labor can actually be measured and calculated, labor in the context of Miet’s project defies measurement.
Paint being spurted in giant arcs into a tiny bucket. What is the fruit of that labor?
Giant sheets being spooled around rotating metal bars. What is the fruit of that labor? Play-bullfighting with a gigantic piece of aero board; rock and roll men playing the guitar and doing sexy dances; sound effects and silly walks. Quite quickly you stop asking yourself what the fruit of this labor is, and for most theatre-goers I would say that means stopping to look for the meaning, and then you start to enjoy the actions for themselves.
It’s a spectacle, duh!
I’m not taking the piss with this review, by the way, but the nature of this show is that it doesn’t flourish in an environment where it is taken too seriously. This is important. It survives rather in an ecosystem that is ironic, fun and light-hearted.
It’s art in a sparkly jump-suit. Can I say plainly that I like it?
Dick for DRAFF
Fruits of Labor by Miet Warlop ran at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, until October 15th. Image: Peter Hönnemann
Posted: 24th October 2017