JERK Live

At a recent show at the South London Gallery, a pupeteer reconstructed the crimes of serial killer Dean Corll.

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Ever seen something that makes you so uncomfortable and overwhelming that it takes about two weeks to talk about it? That’s what happens when you see Jerk. Jerk is a one man puppet show theatre performance based on Dennis Cooper’s stories about real life serial killers in 1970s Texas -  Dean Corll, David Brooks and Wayne Henley – who killed over 20 boys. This is the third time director and choreographer Gisèle Vienne and Dennis Cooper have collaborated – most notably in 2007 for Kindertotenlieder with music by Stephen O’Malley of Sunn0))) fame.

The performance took place at South London Gallery on the 1st and 2nd of July. It sold out immediately. A small number of people assembled in the empty gallery and sat on temporary raw wood benches. In front of the small audience was the French performer Jonathan Capdevielle, who looked more like an sweet and awkward metal band member than an obvious actor. A fanzine containing two Cooper stories and specially commissioned illustrations was handed out to the audience. At specific moments in the performance the audience would read a story, which pushed the narrative along.

Capdevielle then took us on a journey – of violent sex acts, gruesome murders, obsession, drooling, vomiting, tears, snuff films, orgies, suicide, torture. He used his voice to echo the ghost like puppet voices Corll projected onto his dead boy victims. He squelched his way through bloodied penetration. He gave a blow job to a puppet and his arm that was beyond pornographic. At times the actor’s psyche seemed to break apart, a ventriloquist’s voice coming out of his throat to describe the last murders. When the performance finished applause felt redundant. The work was so gut wrenching and physical that the only correct visceral reaction would be to vomit.

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