Belgian choreographer Alain Platel returns to Sadler’s Wells with nicht schlafen, a dark and intense work featuring the contemporary ensemble les ballets C de la B. After staging shows with music by Mozart, Bach, Verdi or Celine Dion, Platel ironically takes inspiration from Gustav Mahler and draws interesting parallels between his music and the horrors of WWI. Europe, shaken by political turmoils is gradually disintegrating and replaced by globalization and wandering zombies.
Thanks to his long-term collaborator Steven Prengels, Platel, who confesses he isn’t a great admirer of the Viennese composer, spices his piece with African polyphony music and the sounds of wild animals. The stage displays a sculpture of an empty dead horse, piled up in a jumbled heap, by contemporary artist Berlinde De Bruyckere. Themes of violence, embraces, and physicality are heavily explored in the show. Death is everywhere too. Visuals recall the work of Francis Bacon and Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa.