Review: Heartfelt honesty of John should be celebrated

DV8 returns with JOHN
DV8 returns with JOHN

John. DV8 Physical Theatre at Warwick Arts Centre until February 6

We are not John. Thank goodness.

But there are people like John, the man on whom this bold eponymous performance is based.

From the very start of his life he has known and committed violence.

His father was a sadistic bully, who beat his mother so badly she lost two unborn children.

She died when John was ten. From then it was care homes, a brief marriage, drug addiction, binge eating, numerous arrests and finally a long prison sentence for arson, a crime he cannot remember committing.

Prison saved him. On his release he discovered the strange disturbing underground world of gay saunas, where men gather in perfect anonymity to have sex or just chill out.

The sex is often violent, dangerous, a substitute for the love he cannot find.

John’s life is portrayed in vivid dance and verbal rhetoric in this show, which draws on interviews with the real John.

The stagecraft itself is compelling.

All the action takes place on a continuously revolving stage, props and costumes effortlessly changing in the few seconds when a segment is out of sight.

The dance moves are frenetic. There is much male nakedness, in body and soul.

This is not a pretty world, but it is a world where John eventually finds some kind of sanctuary.

The Daily Mail has expressed its outrage at the waste of taxpayers money on this Arts Council funded show.

For its heartfelt honesty and courage in showing one of the dark edges of life it should be celebrated.

Rating 9/10

By Nick Le Mesurier