09 Jan Completely Ingenious about Illness, Family and Memories
Dagens Nyheter, published December 7, 2016
It’s Only the End of the World, by Jean-Luc Lagarce
Director: Anja Suša
Translation: Anders Bodegård
Dramaturgy: Marie Persson Hedenius
Set design: Ulla Kassius
Performers: Erik Borgeke, Anna Carlsson, Moa Silén, Logi Tulinius, Elisabeth Wernesjö
Venue: Uppsala City Theatre
Running time: 1h 45min
Not a day too early! What else is one to say when “It’s Only the End of the World” by Jean-Luc Lagarce, one of the most performed French playwrights, is for the first time put on a scene in Sweden. Lagarce managed to write 25 plays before he died in 1995, only 38 years old.
“It’s Only the End of the World” describes one family’s painful incapability to communicate. Words are flowing, but extremely little is being said. In the center of this ranting emptiness, we find Louis, a 30-year old big brother who, after many years of absence, suddenly shows up. His return poses a threat to the family’s emotional hierarchy. All of a sudden, the relations between mother, siblings and their spouses shift. Elisabeth Wernesjö’s little sister is electrical, like a rabbit in Duracell commercials, and Logi Tulinius’ little brother is authoritarianly jealous. Moa Silén’s sister-in-law fights in vain to mitigate this.
But almost everything is being hidden behind the uptight politeness. The façade is so thick that Louis never succeeds in breaking through and telling the real cause of his rare visit – he is dying of AIDS.
Like refrigerator magnets, family members stick firmly to each other and to the scene’s austere background walls, in which a horizontal gap represents an opening for memories and details.
For example, an opening for a car described by Anna Carlson, who plays the mother. A metaphor for that which did not come true, but is nonetheless pretended to be true. The family car was black, but it should, of course, be red, as the feelings that were never expressed.
“It’s Only the End of the World” is composed of a long, twisty series of monologs, in the past, present and future. The impression is next to hallucinatory, a stoned theater grammar that circles around a sinkhole that nobody dares to look into.
That which is not formulated in words seeks its expression in the body. The ensemble crawls, dances, twists itself in slow motion around Erik Borgeke’s Louis. These are the movements of grasping for air, painfully comical.
Directed by Anja Suša, with the set design by Ulla Kassius and choreography by Damjan Kecojevic, as well as the ensemble’s razor sharp expression, “It’s Only the End of the World” is definitely ingenious theater.