09 Jan A Joyful Description of the Apocalypse
Svenska dagbladet, published October 3, 2016
The Ridiculous Darkness
Director: Anja Suša
Performers: Erik Borgeke, Cecilia Borssén, Nils Dernevik, Jörgen Düberg
Venue: Helsingborg City Theatre
Set design: Helga Bumsch
Costume Design: Maja Mirkovic
This is not the first time that the theater depicts the world as a night club, cabaret or a carnival. Nevertheless, set designer Helga Bumsch makes a statement by placing the politically speculative liberation war of our time in a suggestive club setting, with bar counters, golden curtains, a DJ and a dancing pole. A sign on the wall shines “Mr Kurtz’ Club” in neon light, as a salute to Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, which was one of the inspiration models for Wolfram Lotz and his play “The Ridiculous Darkness”.
For a successful 35-year old playwright, Lotz, who is now being introduced to Scandinavia by Helsingborg City Theatre, there is no doubt: the age in which we live, the age of moralization, violence and interfering in each other’s business, is nothing more than the sum of parts of a ridiculous entertainment culture. We are playing police, soldiers, victims and the oppressed in a value-relativistic international game of power and supremacy. The bricks are just being moved around, in new conflict constellations that constantly arise.
Director Anja Suša and the excellent cast frame Lotz’ pessimism with a certain reckless, theatrical richness of ideas. Two “heroes”, Erik Borgeke’s yelling officer Pellner and Nils Dernevik’s Carl Bildt-like diplomatic envoy Stefan Torsk, are about to travel up a river in order to seek the disappeared lieutenant colonel Deutinger. They are in a middle of a war, supposedly Afghanistan.
In fact, this is a play about all the possible hotbeds of conflict, both past, and present, where the big Western powers march out, with guns, in idealistic and clumsy attempts to change the fighting and suffering “savages”. They meet a decadent Italian aristocrat, played by Tobias Borvin, who attempts to make the villagers refined and presentable. Borvin reappears in yet another scene, like wreckage from the 1990s Balkan wars, a man that lost everything in the NATO bombings.
Certain episodes and tricks continue to burn on throughout this joyful description of the apocalypse: when Cecilia Borssén, dressed as a nightclub hostess, sits with a water bucket labeled as “the Mediterranean Sea” and washes small children’s clothes, which she then nonchalantly throws onto the floor. Or the anecdote of a sloth bear that rapes and falls in love with Anja the prostitute – Gustav Berg in a languishing pole dance. She is dressed in a mermaid attire and held captive but is then cynically dumped by the bear. In such scenes, this play’s dark critique of contemporary injustice becomes quite clear.
Otherwise, Anja Suša mostly draws attention to the text’s drastic language, abrupt throws, meta comments and grotesqueness. Nobody is in this play stuck in self-pity or sympathy for others. Maybe this is the realistic image of what the reality actually is. Frightening.