The Nature of Things
“4 Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer” by Yossi Berg and Oded Graf is a work that deals ironically with the links between, beauty, eros, annihilation and destruction, and focuses on that amoral power of nature whose existence is a given.
“Far, far away in a quiet land, live herds of men in perfect harmony with nature. They hunt, drink, ride white horses and hug trees, until one fine day the masculine idyll is suddenly interrupted when Alice arrives…”
“4 Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer” is a joint production of The Lab in Jerusalem, the Opera House in Dresden, Germany, and the Museum of Modern Art in Dresden. In a dark humoristic fantasy about four men to the sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach, Yossi Berg and Oded Graf try to discover the ultimate “man” and cast doubt upon his existence.
The deer was already there, from the moment we came in, its noble horns lending an air of distant and supreme masculinity. Then they come on stage, four men in tailored suits with masks on their faces, moving uniformly in clumsy confusion, the long continuous present. They are strong and comfortable and it seems as if they can go on like this forever. Looking forward, to the side at us, and forward once more.
When the mask is removed it is time to expose the muscles, to dance in a duet or in a trio, to show whose is larger and who is stronger, to pass a hand between the legs, to mix in the sounds of breathing, screaming and unbridled laughter. For a moment they rest lying on the floor. Four men in a house with a refrigerator full of meat and beer, a giant wall-sized plasma screen, and a perpetual erection. What more do you need to hold a herd of men together.
But then Alice comes along, riding on a red bicycle in a light summer dress, a ghostlike character related as a fairy tale by Hillel Kogan, and just the thought of her activates the muscle of their being and cracks their hedonistic harmony. They invite her to sleep over and she replies “Yes” or “No”, the different versions will invite euphoria through the songs of the rock group Queen. They will sing, recite, be mischievous and uninhibited, and enjoy it.
However, then Bach will return with the wonderful and chilling duet between Kogan who shouts “Yes” and Yossi Berg who yells “No”. A struggle between two deer butting each other on the chest, powerfully spraying out the “Yes” and the “No” which are replaced by “Love, love ,me, lonely man, more, more, money”. Each of the words end with a great cry that rises in a straight vertical line and is broken into pieces by animal grunts and growls.
This is a production that deals openly with no little irony as well as with the links between beauty, eros, annihilation and destruction. And above all, with the fate of one who follows the leanings of his heart to the end and brings ruin actually as a result of his devotion to Eros and passion. “4 Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer” is an entertaining production whose power is in the critical mass created by four mature dancers whose bodies know how to say what has to be said. There is no shock, rather complete clarity with regard to the hospitality that ends in rape and violence, as well as the stupidity and horror of this ancient human violence. Because that’s the way it is, that’s the nature of things – we dance on the blood to justify the wound.
This is not a discussion about the nature of evil but about that amoral power of nature whose existence is a given. Its beginning is strong movement, wild, directionless, stormy, and the object of that movement is always our fellow man.