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    John: a dignified and significant masterwork

    If there's one theatrical experience that will change your life, it's DV8 Physical Theatre's spellbinding John. It is not only one of the most provocative and fearless explorations of male sexuality, but dares to state what needs to be said about the human condition.
    John: a dignified and significant masterwork

    Distinguished vision

    For Llloyd Newson, who founded the London-based dance-theatre company in 1986, that has sparked its share of anger over 28 years, John is not "a gay ghetto piece," but "about men and sex, specifically about a masculine approach to sex that is, at some level, curtailed by society and superegos. So much so, in fact, that it has to go underground."

    Newson's distinguished vision is astounding; he successfully manages to convey the absolute loneliness of a man who is hopelessly lost in live and love, masterfully contrasting John's isolation with his claustrophobic rambling in a male sauna where naked bodies become a sea of flesh, and the utter chaotic effect of drug addiction and physical abuse.

    John is an incredibly complex production to pull off and succeeds admirably.

    Meaningful and rewarding

    DV8's collaboration with The National Theatre offers a meaningful and rewarding theatrical experience that takes the art of drama, performance, movement and expression to its extreme.

    Hannes Langolf leads the powerful ensemble and delivers a memorable and compelling performance.

    A fascinating aspect of John is that although the ensemble only consists of 12 performers, there are times when it feels as if there's a crowd on stage, with the performers brilliantly mutating from one character to the next.

    The Art of Verbatim Theatre

    DV8 Physical Theatre work is about taking risks, both physically and aesthetically, breaking down barriers between dance and theatre, dealing with personal politics and, above all, It's communicating ideas and feelings clearly and unpretentiously.

    This is verbatim-theatre at its most powerful, authentically depicting real-life stories, combining movement and spoken word to create an intense and moving theatrical experience.

    It takes the art of expression and creativity to a whole new level, taking you on an intense physical and emotional journey into the mind and life of a man whose soul has been corrupted by abuse, drugs and sexual explorations.

    Bold and Imaginative

    Sometimes a production tries to shock its audience without honest intent, but with John, there are no false intentions.

    It will not only jolt your senses, but shake you to the core with Newson's bold and imaginative interpretation and choreography of its rich narrative. Based on conversations with the real-life 'John', it takes you through the emotional turmoil of his life, from his appalling childhood, through the trauma of a crime and drug ridden adulthood, the harsh brutality of prison, to the intimate decadence and promiscuity of gay saunas, where he confronted raw sex and unsafe sexual encounters with strangers.

    For once, the drama is candid and significant, and marks one of the most explicit explorations of sexuality.

    Frenetic high-energy

    It's not always easy to understand a life corrupted by crime and drugs, but with John, its staging plunges you into an insane maelstrom of constantly moving set pieces.

    The rapid scene changes dissolve from one setting to another, shifting from rooms, to corridors, spaces, infinite darkness, and a surreal shadowy underworld, with characters constantly bursting through doors and doorways.

    The frenetic high-energy of the design, combined with unbelievable and jaw-dropping physical performances, movement and dance, will leave you breathless.
    At the end of this live-wire 90 minute production, its conclusion delivers an emotional truth that you will never forget.

    Profoundly confronts important issues

    During a time where we have become desensitised against words like HIV and drug addiction, John tells it like it really is, and not how most people want it to be.

    It boldly confronts issues that need to be addressed and creates an astute awareness that should be experienced by anyone who has ever questioned the fragile temperament of the human condition.

    You will never forget John, an everyman who represents everyone, and whose voice deserves to be heard, delivering one of the most important life lessons of our time.

    In the tradition of other profound theatrical masterworks like Angels in America and The Normal Heart, John is a unique creation that takes a journey into the gay lifestyle as experienced from a heterosexual man's point of view.

    We look beyond the clichéd glamour and artificial façade that most commercial productions dealing with gay sexuality deliver, and encounter the brutal hardcore reality of sexual preferences and the affect it has on families and society.

    John is rare and groundbreaking theatre that has never been more exciting. It's an once-in-a-lifetime experience that simply cannot be missed.

    Sensitive viewers are warned: it has explicit and disturbing scenes that probe the darkness of sexuality, containing adult themes, strong language and scenes of male nudity, and carries a strict 18+ age restriction.

    Watch the trailer for John here:

    There are only two screenings of John left in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on 7 and 8 January at 7.30pm at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. Due to demand, there are two extra screenings of JOHN on 10 January at 19:30 and 11 January at 14:30. To book your seats, visit www.cinemanouveau.co.za.

    For more information on live theatre and opera on the big screen, visit www.writingstudio.co.za.

    About Daniel Dercksen

    Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit www.writingstudio.co.za
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