Day 2: Kornél Mundruczó / Boris Charmatz

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Ever seen a truck, driving around in circles on stage. No? Too bad you missed Boris Charmatz’ two performances of La danseuse malade. A truck and a young Frankenstein. The contrast couldn’t have been any bigger, yesterday, between Charmatz’ performance and a highly realistic play of Kornél Mundruczó.

‘I do not believe in postmodern theatre-making and I have no admiration for it. The audience is too sensitive and passionate for that. People come to see a good story and it is difficult enough to find a good story.’ That’s the view of the Hungarian film- and theatre-director Kornél Mundruczó. His film Delta was awarded with the ‘Prix de la critique’ at last year’s Film Festival in Cannes.

For his Frankenstein-project he puts the audience in a couple of shabby cabins/containers. Amidst all poverty, a family is living here, and a filmdirector has rented these for a casting session. Where, in the beginning, you think this might be a play with different layers, it turns out to be a fairly simple, realistic story of a young man who returns to take revenge on his mother and father.

In the end Mundruczó wants us to feel a sort of catharsis. ‘If the play is working, the audience should feel something like that: he did the killing, but he was the innocent one.’  Unfortunately, I felt nothing like that at all. The boy kills everyone. Right. Okay. And what next? Have I been too ‘spoiled’ by years and years of ‘different’ Belgian and Dutch theatre?

Murder in the afternoon, fireworks in the evening. La danseuse malade begins with an explosion. Much later on a mad dog appears. In between that, you get a white truck, going around in circles. This is the universe of choreographer Boris Charmatz, who based this performance on texts of the Japanese artist Tatsumi Hijikata, one of the founders of Butoh-dance.

As always, with Charmatz, these are images that have to sink in. What the hell is he doing? Why the truck? What about the stories the exquisite actress Jeanne Balibar is telling, while she is driving? The fact is: one day later some of this is still haunting me, whereas the Frankenstein-cruelty isn’t. An interesting ‘meet the artist’-talk after the performance made it quite clear that Charmatz has a reason for everything. Highly conceptual, and probably not everyone’s cup of tea.

(photocredit: Academie Anderlecht – Elke Verheyen)

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