Day 4: Tristero / Transquinquennal

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Reassuring thought: there’s only 0,0001 percent chance that one might die during a theatre performance. Just a simple fact you learn during Coalition, the hilarious new theatre performance of the two Brussels-based collectives Tristero and Transquinquennal. A weird but coherent collection of mostly silent sketches that involve fire-fighters, pilots, nurses, stewardesses and the inevitable Tommy Cooper.

If I’d have visitors from abroad, I would immediately book them tickets for Coalition. No better way to introduce someone from a far and foreign country to that strange and utterly Belgian form of humour that we all know as surrealism.

Don’t expect a story. Well yeah, there is one, but it hops from seemingly unrelated fact or scene to the other. What holds all of this together is that silly sentence, projected several times on the brick backwall of the theatre: there’s only 0,0001 percent chance that one might die during a theatre performance. You get Tommy Cooper (who, as we all know, died on stage), reciting the many things Abraham Lincoln and JF Kennedy had in common.

You get the story of a theatre performance in Brussels, during which one member of the audience died. It goes without saying that Tristero & Transquinquennal just háve to play the scene that made that person die of laughter. And then there’s the story of a Russian Mig-plane that fell from the sky, one day in ’89 in the Flemish village of Bellegem. It’s for you to find out how that connects to all the rest.

Well-chosen costumes, just a few pieces of furniture, a flat-screen, and a group of actors, delivering all this nonsense with a straight face, while the audience can read what it needs to know on the backwall. Plus, of course, a grand finale. Just hope for an audience that is not laughing at every single move, and every single scene. This is a performance that needs a sort of awkwardness. 

One piece of advice though:  just make sure you’re well hidden when Wilhelm Tell points that arrow at you. Or sit confidently, knowing, that there’s only 0,0001…

(photo credit: Academie Anderlecht – Nancy Geeroms)

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