Ruthless entertainment
IOLANDA G. MADARIAGA - El Mundo (24 May 2011)

The versatile and unclassifiable Jan Lauwers has arrived once again to the Teatre Lliure with a play that differs from his usual path of presenting trilogies about issues that worry and trouble the author. In spite of this, Lauwers’ show, together with his unconditional troupe – the Needcompany – has all the features with which Lauwers has earned his name in the international scene. He still conceives the show as a work in progress, a performatic exercise in which the immediate action is more important than the result. Totally devoted to the multiplicity of scenic languages, his work continues to be a fusion of dance, theatre, visual and video art. Lauwers’ scenic creatures stop being characters in order to become the actors they are, in pursuit of the alienating effect that is their own, only to return to the condition of characters in a theatrical fiction. However, Lauwers has left drama to enter the scene of black comedy. It could be classified as grotesque tragicomedy if it wasn’t because the medium in which it takes place was so foreign to this genre. The art of entertainment happens on a television set, in the heart of a reality show where people go to end their lives. As a part of the television show, a famous French cook prepares the last meal for the suicide. The hostess of the show is the famous Liliane Van Muynck/Viviane De Muynck, an older actress on the verge of decadence. The guest to the show we witness is Saul J. Waner/ Dirk Roofthooft, an actor that is losing his memory and, as a result, decides to put an end to his life, offering himself as a show. Like this, Waner will give meaning to his whole life celebrating with an audience this final act. On the set, besides the doctor that will give him a deadly cocktail of injections, he is accompanied by his lover and companion, Gena/Grace Ellen Barkey. Seen like this, the show doesn’t have anything funny about it, but since it begins, the viewer is dragged into a world of scenic jest, easy and gruesome jokes, bad-taste pranks, digressions and absurd situations that make it turn into a sarcastic representation of this television format. Beyond the irony with which Lauwers handles reality shows, he raises a point about the ultimate reasons of an artist. The characters talk about the profession of an actor, about politics, about sex and also about art, some characters wander adrift consumed by the media itself… If silence arises, it must be quickly replaced by noise. Jan Lauwers and his prodigious Needcompany create an emotionless absurdity, where it is difficult to be moved although it strikes the viewer with the strength of a punch, that is, a punch or a pie in the face.

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