As I was leaving the venue after the show, I overheard several people saying “that was excellent,” and, as I paused outside, I couldn’t help feeling uneasy about those words. I don’t know how I felt (and still don’t), but excellent?
There was an intimacy between David and much of the audience; however, like entering a clique, one either left initiated, or not. David is brutally open about himself: like a character from a Wes Anderson film, he was able to articulate himself with an exactitude that was frightening. Because of this, one cannot help but have a moral reaction to David and the show – he gives and we take, with an alarming immediacy. Excellent?! I wandered the streets and felt bad for disagreeing.
I pondered David’s continuous allusions to the avant garde: he describes the première of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, with Nijinsky’s choreography, Picasso’s backdrops and the riot that then followed, in order to highlight the contrasting passivity of today’s youth. – making the point that it should be some 20 year-old up there, and not some old guy pushing the boundaries. I couldn’t help feeling that, like the emasculation of surrealism and the dilution of DaDa into the mainstream, something had been lost; both in this performance, and also more generally in art and its reception by modern audiences.
Was it excellent? David farted on stage, people laughed, David sang a song from Cabaret badly (I liked this moment), and people applauded and whooped, all at the right moments, too. Where, however, were the riots?
It wasn’t good, but was it meant to be? I watched a girl’s face as David thrashed around on the stage to music – she looked on uncomfortably, seemingly disbelieving that she’d paid for this. “Giving you your money’s worth!”: these words would ring intermittently throughout the act, and as I thought of that girl, I realised that she hadn’t understood. Getting your money’s worth? Of course not, but is that not the point? Excellent? No, please, anything but that…