Troupe Mabuse, June 1922

Gideon Mobrois writes


Would it be wise to recommend the immoral " entertainment" witnessed last night as part of Troupe Mabuse's venture "Unknown Pleasures, Great Infinity"? Can it be proper that numbered amongst the audience were excitable and unaccompanied young women, doubtless attracted by the publicity of "an unforgettable provocation". On entering the dank vault the acrid smell of gunpowder assaults the nostrils. From deep within the boundless space comes an incessant booming. A terrible chaos of unacceptably poor theatre management resulted in the audience being forced to change seats continuously during the first twenty minutes, whilst the unfortunate performers wandered, lost, in the auditorium. Would that they had not crossed the proscenium. A programme in the form of a pamphlet was slipped into my hand by masked figure: be warned this is nothing less than an incitement to break the law, a manifesto riddled with inflammatory language, the stench of anarchist propaganda hangs over this seedy production.

This is a play of illusion and there is some clever work with light from the new machinery, at one point a still figure appears as a cloud of moths, later she shimmers and then dissolves leaving behind a shadow which hovers seemingly unsure of its existence, lying inbetween the spaces between our world and another.

In this interminable production one solo compels, more for its shocking content than its artistry; Mme Abuse, a rangy masculine figure, adopts a series of plastiques then begins to cut, hack and finally shaves off her hair accompanied only by the sound of soft weeping. What happens next cannot be described in relation to the theatre as we understand it, dancers are humiliated, they cower, crawl, stagger, frequently falling off their pointes. The classical line is not so much distorted as mangled. They appear impelled forward by some inner force to deliver a terrible warning, perhaps of what the moderns would do not just to the noble art of ballet, to the world order but in fact to our very souls. The Endless Time Enterprise that sponsored this, the Troupe's first visit should be called to account.

Copyright Jane Wildgoose and The Wildgoose Memorial Library