Caesarean Section - Essays on Suicide

I admit it, with a title like Caesarean Section – Essays on Suicide, I was worried. But the piece that Teatr ZAR has brought to Summerhall is, thankfully, not too gloomy or melancholic, or even shocking. It is a physical and vocal celebration of defiance, beautifully composed and richly orchestrated. The live score is the origin of the company’s explorations for this piece and the show is experienced as a concert accompanied by physical performance rather than the other way around.

Tonically, the show swings from Corsican polyphonic vocal compositions to Satie piano solos, all performed by the company. The dancers, who also sing, seamlessly melt in and out of the larger ensemble. Exhibiting Grotowski-method physical rigor and dynamism the company has built a classic piece of figurative dance-theatre with a series of etudes exploring the poetic idea and symbols of suicide (but not so much the dirty reality of the concept). There’s even a touch of humour with a series of goofy send-ups such as drowning by drain plug or hanging by shrub, and so on. Otherwise the visual story is told with broken glass, spilled red wine, intense and pounding physical duets and trios, and the bodies of the performers wrenched with song. The scenes don’t describe a narrative, but instead seem to embody different destructive parts of the self – despair, panic, and anger.

For all that, there is no real sense of danger or true desperation in the production, which, for a piece about ‘suicidal compulsion and the involuntary force that pulls us back from the brink’ is kind of disappointing. In an early blackout, glass windows are shattered violently in the darkness; this moment is thrilling in its invocation of risk and raw sorrow. But it is never topped in the rest of the production, which is constructed with strict artistry rather than ripped from the bowels of feeling. There is passion, certainly, but the passion is for performing and the vitality of the body. Therefore the ‘suicides’ became more about the possible absence of art rather than the literal destruction of life. The broken glass, for example, which ran in a glittering river down the centre of the stage, was a beautiful image, but something to run your hands through, not a wild threat or an inescapable black hole.

Still, the performances are striking and the choreography of both the visual and auditory world is expressive and resonant. If you are new to dance-theatre this piece is a must-see. If you are a veteran, you will enjoy a standard, though excellent, example of the form.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

A performance about suicidal compulsion and the involuntary force that pulls us back. The musical structure was developed from polyphonic Corsican songs, into which diverse traditional songs have been woven. ‘Remarkably elemental’ (Chicago Tribune).

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets