If Needcompany comes to your city, you need to see them
Anette Sallmander - LOFT The Nordic BOOKAZINE (27 november 2008)

Needcompany, an international multilingual and multidisciplinary group, based in Brussels, Belgium, has been in existence since 1986, and is still at the forefront of creative stage work. They are currently touring all over the world and it is a must-see! Jan Lauwers, the company’s founder and artistic director, has also produced video projects and a full-length feature film. Co-founder, actress Grace Ellen Barkey, has been deeply involved with the company and has been making her own productions since 1992, on the borderline where theatre, dance, performance and art meet. Some other associated performers are also creating their own work under Needcompany’s umbrella, for example MaisonDahlBonnema, OHNO COOPERATION, Lemm&Barkey, ... This expansion has grown organically from within, creativity without boundaries fosters free and independent artists. Isabella’s room was my first experience of Needcompany. I was blessed. My second was MaisonDahlBonnema presenting The Ballad of Ricky and Ronny – a pop opera. Even though the plays are very different, there is a similarity of approach. Investigation is the central part of their work, creating the rough aliveness of a prototype instead of a polished finished product. They do not pretend they are anywhere else than on stage. During the performance they take care of the technicalities like changing light, sound score, projections even as they portray things that are happening elsewhere or in the past, in a way that draws you into the story. In so doing, they achieve a presence, a being in the now, that makes them real and connected with the audience. For me, this is when theater works at its best. Does individual love exist? This is the question raised by MaisonDahlBonnema. The couple has composed the music, written the libretto, directed, and choreographed and are now performing the characters in The Ballad of Ricky and Ronny - a pop opera. They play with all the details of their composition. Even the choice of the sub-title makes a twist for your awareness, since opera usually is grandiose, but Ricky and Ronny are performing pop in a chamber music format. In a contained space, they deal with a huge subject—the meaning of life—that becomes relative when it is counterbalanced with world starvation. True artists form their own language, they avoid superimposing form over content. Even serious situations become humorous—when they sing “time typical”, for example, expressions like “fuck you” are repeated in a low-key over and over again, in true opera style. Ricky and Ronny is a portrait of a middle class couple who have everything they need but the meaning of life. They struggle to fill the emptiness with anti-wrinkles cosmetics, clothing, shopping, but nothing seems to work. They even adopt a child who is merely a figment of their imagination whom they call Freedom, a child made out of sperm and snow. Freedom is a child of our time and it’s cold now. Ricky and Ronny are from the generation of free sex, but they do not know how to use this freedom and end up trying different kinky sex games that gives neither of them satisfaction. Many of us have experienced being in a couple relationship when it is at its worst and we all know how hard it is to bring it to a new level after the “in love” period is over. What does one do, when the worlds “I love you” have lost meaning?

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