by Edit Kaldor, Karmenlara Ely and the performers.
Contact Theatre 21 March 2015.
Runs 1hr 10min (+ Discussion) No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 March.
Essential theatre – people in a room together considering what it can mean to be human.
Brighton and Manchester have a limited number of things in common, one of them that they both host this year’s SICK! Festival, a programme of events examining the challenges individuals can face in life, including mental, neuro and sexual problems. This year (the Festival is well-established in Brighton) there’s a focus on sex, sexuality, abuse and suicide.
The visit from Netherlander Edit Kantor and her production is a piece for which SICK! might be made. Three people in their late teens, not trained actors, talk about childhood, backed by video of familiar urban estates – not sink territory but not luxury land either. Along these ordinary streets, the houses, it is inferred, can contain the miseries of abuse. These are not piled-up in the show, but emerge calmly from young people who might be talking about their own experience, each others’ or other people entirely.
Importantly, what they have to say often comes in the form of questions. This implicates the audience, preventing the defensive wall that might be put up against the lobbing of hard facts. The questions are calmly, reasonably voiced, asking for responses which gives rise to reflection, especially when one answer faces the next question; easy responses don’t go far.
Yet there is no expectation of responses outloud. Something in the calm manner and damped-down cadences of the questions prevents audiences answering audibly. It would, you feel, be an interruption, an intrusion into what these young people have to tell us.
Mixed with these are short sections of scientific facts. One, quite surprising, is a high-pitched sound that only children and young adults can hear. High sounds are the first to become imperceptible as the brain ages. And the brain, as visual images show, changes a lot from childhood to young maturity. It’s the reason young children can learn language and why impressions from earlier years remain in the mind.
The problem is what happens when the owners of those minds are subjected to cruelty and abuse while their brains are still programmed to retain strong impressions. The answer, in this persuasive use of theatre, is Woe.
Performers: Tirza Gevers, Kobbe Koopman, David de Lange.
Director: Edit Kaldor.
Lighting: Jan Fedinger, Ingeborg Slaats.
: Tony Schulte.
Dramaturgs: Camilla Eeg Tverbakk, Nicola Unger.
Produced by Stichting Kata, Edit Kaldor.
Co-produced by Hebbel am Lifer, Berlin; Teatro Maria Mates, Lisbon, STUK, Leuven.
Supported by Dutch Performing Arts Fund, Amsterdam Arts Fund, SNS Reaal Fund.
UK premiere presented with Contact Theatre.