Did DV8’s verbatim production of Can we talk about this? have to be monotonous? Was it contempt for the audience which drove them to relentlessly lambast us with noise and superfluous motion, or was it because of the subject matter? Does Lloyd Newson, to paraphrase, consider himself ‘morally superior’ to us?

If I sound provoked and angry, then perhaps Lloyd Newson has achieved precisely what he set out to do. Can we talk about this? is a passionate polemic about multiculturalism, the dangers inherent in ‘submissively’ allowing rights to freedom of speech to be eroded and about the brutal atrocities that have been committed either as a supposed defence against criticism of Islam by extremists or within some Muslim communities while exercising some interpretations of Sharia law.

Just because DV8 are employing verbatim theatre techniques, in that all the words spoken in the production were reproduced word for word from ‘real-life’ sources, doesn’t mean they are all true. Verbatim doesn’t mean Gospel. Repeatedly we are told that Muslim women can’t divorce their husbands. This is true but Muslim women can dissolve their marriages, although they will probably have to return all their wedding gifts to their ex-husband. Unjust obviously but this knowledge does nuance the bigotry argument; amongst the barrage of facts and chilling statistics this was mentioned, once, briefly as a riposte.

The above example is perhaps trivial, although I don’t consider women’s rights trivial, when compared to some of the atrocities including domestic abuse, rape, murder, assassination and terrorism presented in the production and I don’t mean to denigrate its subject matter in any way. What has really fired me up, however, is how Lloyd Newson has taken this opportunity for DV8 and for the debate as a whole and not created a masterpiece.

There was beautiful dancing in the production. But so what? If I want to see beautiful movement for beautiful movement’s sake then I will go and see NDT2, or some ballet or any number of fantastic abstract contemporary dance companies. What I want from ‘Physical Theatre’, what I want from DV8, world-renowned masters of the genre, is movement which adds to the production. Movement which deepens arguments, which enlightens me to motivation and emotion. I want movement which reveals the inner world of the characters and illustrates it corporeally. I want to be surprised, shocked, fascinated and moved myself. I also want a chance to watch it, for it to speak for itself.

40 minutes in, I had calculated that about 15% of the choreography actually came close to doing any of the above. By the end of the arduous 80-minute production, this had risen to 20%. That’s 16 minutes' worth, or 1 in every 5 out of a show which contained constant movement, the majority of which was based on a movement vocabulary of endlessly repeating gestures with the same staccato rhythm as the words in the constant endless speech which over-scored the piece. I left with a headache.

In DV8's 1992 work Strange Fish, Lloyd Newson’s choreography portrayed solidarity, desire, loneliness, heartache, disappointment and joy. The choreography both advanced the plot and revealed aspects of the characters. A conflicted character was revealed through a hula-hoop which was used both to seduce and to act as a chaste force field. It enabled lascivious dancing but also represented commitment. In Can we talk about this?, one of the highlights was listening to the words of former Labour MP Ann Cryer in a fascinating exposition on forced marriage and how she fought to get it debated in parliament while she was variously perched in a contact / Acro Yoga duet on a male actor while drinking a cup of tea. Oh, how we laughed when she left the saucer on his head. In the words of Frantic Assembly, ‘Don’t make somebody become a table or a chair that then gets sat on – this is not physical theatre, it is demeaning’. It can be argued that this movement sequence represented the cushy life of those in Westminster and their detachment from ‘reality’ and that it provided some welcome light-hearted relief from the rest of the work. It was also cheap and obvious.

Perhaps I’m missing the genius in the work. I will agree that it can be theatrically powerful to take the inflamed and hyperbolic words of someone who is clearly devoted to their cause, and to portray that in a sober and measured tone. Not ‘colouring’ the words to highlight their significance in case the audience is missing the point. However, do this for 80 minutes while you rail against the supposedly unchallenged subordination of ‘British’ culture to the sanctity of all ideas ‘multicultural’, and you end up sounding overly worthy, more Fahrenheit 9/11 than An Inconvenient Truth.

There were opportunities for brilliance throughout the piece. A dance theatre portrayal of a scantily-clad Aayan Hirsi Ali, screen-writer of Submission the film which led to its director Theo Van Gogh’s (yes a distant relative) assassination, of the famous scene where lines from the Koran are inscribed on a woman’s body but also made to look like bruises resulting from domestic violence was one of those opportunities. It was good but it should have been devastating.