La Reprise. Histoire(s) du théâtre (I)

What theatre by Lars Von Trier might look like

★★★
theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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La Reprise. Histoire(s) du théâtre
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Published 05 Mar 2019

In 2012, a young gay man was brutally murdered in the economically depressed Belgian town of Liège. La Reprise... purports to be a re-enactment of that crime. But part of director and playwright Milo Rau's Ghent Manifesto is that “theatre is not a product, it is a production process” so this is also a play about the casting and development process of that re-enactment. Throughout the performance the line between historical reality and fiction is kept intentionally blurry, reflecting the fact that only the murderers will truly know what happened.

The cast includes a number of non-professional actors and every member plays at least two roles: a character involved in the crime or its aftermath, and the actor researching and playing that character. Perhaps these elements are autobiographical but nothing can be taken for granted, and when they break the fourth wall another layer is added. Playwright and director Milo Rau is playing with the audience, most obviously when he incorporates video elements and switches between live and pre-recorded segments.

The murder is terrifying when it arrives. Sebastien Foucault in particular delivers a disturbingly intense performance as the events are re-enacted without dialogue after the initial encounter. But the script suggests that the actor is merely a vessel for the delivery of a story, and cynically uses Ihsane Jarfi's murder as a vehicle for its own message: that we are all complicit in the crimes that we do not stop. There's plenty of light entertainment on offer during the Festival period. This is not it, but then it's not meant to be.