Shock theatre troupe Ontroerend Goed return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This article is from 2014

Shock theatre troupe Ontroerend Goed return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

'Whores, liars, princesses' - new show Sirens tackles women's representation

Ontroerend Goed’s reputation as theatre’s shock troop is well established. Whether dealing with adolescent alienation, speed dating, political disenfranchisement or the apathy of the audience, they seem determined to attack presumptions and present a vision of the world that borders on nihilistic. While Teenage Riot took its name from Sonic Youth's hymn to apathy, it placed a gang of youths within a hut where anything went, Audience courted controversy by attacking the very people who had just paid to be entertained.

Sirens goes after the representation of women: the startling press release lists a series of stereotypical statements about women, mostly negative (whores, liars, princesses) and boldly refuses to qualify them. During a Fringe where explicitly feminist theatre suggests that gender difference is not just about the conflict between the sexes, Goed are heading straight into the battle zone.

Coming from a Belgian tradition which encourages formal experimentation and a commitment to socially engaged theatre, Goed are always a reminder of drama's ability to shock. Sirens' bold statement confronts unpalatable truths, not necessarily to confirm them, but to use them to tear apart lazy thinking.

At the heart of Goed’s approach is the insistence of the audience’s complicity: picking up Brecht's ideas about 'breaking the fourth wall', they consciously antagonise the spectators, forcing them to take sides. In Fight Night, they reduced democracy to a fixed popularity contest. In Sirens, they stare into the abyss of labeling according to accidents of birth, and deliberately emphasise the brutality of human relationships.

Summerhall, 0845 874 3001, 12–24 Aug (not 18), 8.30pm £12.50 (£11).


  • 4 stars

Ontroerend Goed, Drum-Plymouth, Vooruit, Richard Jordan, Big in Belgium, Summerhall We are the weaker sex. We’re goddesses, muses, amazons and warrior queens. We can’t control our feelings. We bleed once a month, because we deserve it. We cry, sulk and suffer inexplicable mood swings. We’re little princesses. We need a…