09 Jan Strong images in a Franch family drama Svenska Dagbladet
Published: December 4, 2016
Serbian director Anja Suša contributes with something thrilling in her visual direction of Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play about a dying man.
It’s Only the End of the World
Director: Anja Suša
Cast: Erik Borgeke, Anna Carlson, Moa Silén, Logi Tulinius, Elisabeth Wernesjö
Venue: Uppsala City Theatre
Text: Jean-Luc Lagarce, translation by Andreas Bodegård
Set design & costume: Ulla Kassius. Light design: Mats Öhlin. Original music: Igor Gostuski.
Choreography: Damjan Kecojević
A young man, who is dying from a disease that is never mentioned, comes home to his mother after a long time and (maybe) wants to marry his sister. This is the basic plot of Ibsen’s play “Ghosts”, which I hear echoing in this play by the French, young, dead playwright Jean-Luc Lagarce, “It’s Only the End of the World”, which is now playing in Sweden for the first time.
In his homeland, Lagarce’s plays are now more and more put on stage. He is well-known for his dense, expressive language, where complications are hidden under every-day babble. But in spite of Anders Bodegård’s translation, the language is not what Anja Suša focuses on in this production; instead, it is whole-heartedly focused on the visual.
Ulla Kassius’ set design consists of an abstract room with cleverly chosen concrete features: the Alps in the background, a heavy, rolling carpet, a swinging lamp, a transformable ball, a small ball, etc. The relations between actors are reflected in costumes and hair styles that are changed more than once during the course of this short (1h 45min) production. Erik Borgeke’s Louis is often left alone on stage, talking directly to the audience, and he stands out from the others in many different ways.
The rest of the characters: Anna Carlson’s linguistically expressive mother, the brother Antoine with his wife Catherine (Logi Tulinius and Moa Silén) and the little sister Suzanne (Elisabeth Wernesjö) at first appear as a collective, but this is gradually broken by the various turn of events. Louis influence on family dynamics becomes most obvious when he throws the boll towards the others, lined up in a row as if he was bowling. All of them fall like ninepins, except for the mother.
It is these images that get stuck in one’s head: Suzanne that for a short while appears in a Pussy Riot hood, the children that sensually lick their ice-cream cones. A couple of sound elements suddenly connect it all to the present day: the announcement of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, Donald Trump that calls for national unity, David Bowie that calls for Major Tom from the ground control (and yes, it mostly becomes a reminder that we have just lost him).
In the very end of the play, we are taken by a strong feeling of loss. I don’t know quite how it actually comes about, but I believe that the audience has completely individual experiences. For me, all of the fragments of images, voices and sound become a reminder of everything imaginable, from dead actors to French design hotels with impractical lamps.
Anja Suša from Serbia is called “a star director” and she contributes with something thrilling in her stylized production, but she does not give us a story to be drawn into. We ourselves are the ones that must help in telling that story.