Last night was a filthy night, rain and wind lashing. I was having second thoughts about going out to the theatre. But the tickets were booked, and the play, an adaptation by David Eldridge, who was my tutor on the Arvon course, lured me out. How glad I was that I hadn't missed it!
The play is a dramatisation of a Dogme film and original play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov and Bo hr.Hansen. A family meet for the father's 60th birthday celebration meal in their grand home. There had been four grown up children, including a set of twins. One of the twins had recently died. During the meal the family re-enact surreal and racist songs from their childhood, eat and retell stories from the past. Christian, the other twin gets up to give a speech. He tells the family that his father had consistently raped and sexually assaulted him and his sister when they were children. There is no response from the family, who go on with their meal. They sing, dance and tell jokes, but responses slowly emerge. Christian is vilified as a fantasist. Then, a letter from the dead sister is read out. She has taken her own life because of her sexual abuse. The atmosphere changes and the father is eventually forced out of the family home.
I think what makes the play work so well is that we see in real time a process that happens in many families when one member is accused of sexual abuse- shock, disbelief, anger at the victim, distraction, the questioning of collusion, anger at the perpetrator, sadness, loss, and the life the family thought they had is exposed as a lie.
The direction and use of space, by Jamie Garvin, one of the original founders of Spectacle Theatre, was excellent. The set design and original music produced a sumptuous and menacing atmosphere. This was a Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama production, acted by students. The quality of each performance was very high. I highly recommend the play. Last night was sold out. Tonight is the final night. I hope you can catch it.