In Search of Dinozord begins, as earthquakes do, with a tremor. Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula stands half-shadowed, his face smeared white, one hand quivering uncontrollably. The shudder becomes convulsive as a distorted sound grows louder, higher, denser – like rising panic – until it seems Linyekula must burst open. He doesn’t. But the feeling lodges inside you.
A lot of backstory has brought Linyekula to this juncture, fragments of which he and his collaborators (three dancers, two actors, a singer and a writer) intermittently reveal. There are stories from the violent, virulent history of their ravaged nation; photos from the prison where their writer, Antoine Vumilia Muhindo, was incarcerated and tortured; memories of the genesis of the work itself, sparked by a dream that theatre just might be able to change the world.
Those fragments can be hard to piece together (who is Dinozord?) but – like Linyekula’s whitened face – they are surfaces: it’s what lies beneath that gives the performance its ground-shaking force. When two men are upended into headstands, it feels like a form of torment.
Hlengiwe Lushaba can sing like a soaring angel – who plummets into rasps of pain. Jeannot Kumbonyeki creates beautiful, bird-like shadows with his arms, only to deliver a krump-styled outburst of stinging bitterness. A suitcase of unread writings is borne like a coffin, its contents not only lidded but destined for burial.
Accompanied by Mozart, traditional chants and Jimi Hendrix, this ragged work bears witness to beauty and abjection, dreams and futility, and, most of all, to rage. Yet the quiet, persistent background noise of Muhindo at his typewriter suggests a fragile hope. Even one finger that keeps on tapping might, despite everything, shake the earth – and change the world.