Exploits mortels © B. Garnier

Exploits Mortels

Reviewer's Rating

The artistic collective “Le Troisième Bureau” has for objective to critically distribute the theatre writing of today, and for the purpose, has opened a library for the use of the general public and regularly organises stage readings by contemporary and international writers, such as Rasmus Lindberg.

« Exploits Mortels » and its 8 characters is fantastically performed by Léo Ferber and Marie Sohna-Condé in a tour-de-force of characters’ and costumes’ ultra-fast changes, as they both convincingly impersonate four characters each: Josephine, the main character; Johnny, her disillusional brother and his long-time girl-friend Katia; their ego-centrically unsatisfied mother Katerina and laisser-faire father; the annoyingly over-optimistic aunty Melina; and themselves as actors witnessing the final scene.

At first doubtful of the efficacy of the bare reading of a play, I was immediately both enthralled by the perfect timing of the two actors whose characters in turn dialogue and overlap, and the unexpected effect that the lack of mise-en-scene had on the audience: without sets and props and very nominal costumes (a cap, a pair of glasses, a scarf), the spectators had the freedom to imagine their own atmosphere and spatial changes (in particular, the accident in the street and the argument in the restaurant), and felt deeply involved in the progress of the play.

The writing itself is not only fast and fun, but also asks serious existential questions about parenting, family relationships, identity formation, and the different stages of life. The play is the story of Josephine who unexpectedly takes part in a family reunion at the occasion of her mother’s birthday. Tensions have run high for many years, resentment has accumulated, and Josephine is hopeful that she will at long last dare articulate her most profound thoughts and feelings. Which she eventually does, to disastrous consequences…

Don’t miss the next stop on the discovery trail of contemporary theatre: on Thursday 16 February at the Amphidice, “Le Troisième Bureau” will present “Ce qui arriva quand Nora quitta son mari” by Austrian playwright and novelist Elfriede Jelinek and which follows from Norwegian Henrik Ibsen’s “House of Dolls”. A free treat not to be missed.