La Reprise Histoire(s) du theatre (I) (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

La Reprise Histoire(s) du theatre (I)

credit: Hubert Amiel

Serious theatrical investigations

Director Milo Rau is as concerned with the ethics of theatrical performance as aesthetics: large portions of La Reprise are concerned with the process of auditions, the selection of performers – especially the non-professional actors – and the historical context of the homophobic murder that becomes the central narrative. Using the fashionable technique of filming live performances and projecting them onto a screen, the company dissect the murder, ponder the motivations and question the very impulse that drives dramatic representation.

An extension of Brecht's fascination with alienation through the recognition of theatre's fundamental dishonesty, Rau's approach tackles the story through multiple perspectives: the victim's parents worrying in bed, the behaviour of the gang who beat him to death and, finally, the act itself. Yet the audience is never allowed to forget that this is a re-enactment, as the dead body gets up and walks off-stage and the cast reflect on their lives and opinions on performance.

The killing contains a raw, emotional power, and the discursive meditations on the job of the actor and the ingrained racism of casting directors – and a visit to one of the killers in prison – offer a cerebral wander around both staged and real-life violence. That this murder had shocked the entire city of Liege, and asked questions about its values and decline appears to have encouraged Rau to insist on questioning the capacity of performance to pay sufficient respect to its sources. The dry tone that accompanies many of the conversations heightens the anxiety and horror, making this a raw, uncompromising analysis of theatre and murder.

Reviewed at The Lyceum. Run ended.

La Reprise Histoire(s) du theatre (I)

  • 4 stars

In April 2012, Ihsane Jarfi got talking to a group of young men in a car outside a gay club in Liège. Two weeks later, he was found dead at the edge of a wood. He had been tortured and violently murdered. La Reprise is an audacious piece of investigative theatre, both a meticulous examination of Jarfi’s brutal murder and…