Aftenposten: Per Christian Selmer-Anderssen
Verk produksjoner Beat the drum: Wishful Beginnings
Fredrik Hannestad, Saila Hyttinen, Espen Klouman Høiner, Håkon Vassvik, Solveig Laland Mohn, Tilo Hahn, Per Platou, Signe Becker
Humanity´s downfall is caused by hedonism and skin-cancer, accompanied by David Bowie’s lyrics. From the idea of people’s extinction, Verk Produksjoner make strong theatre.
When we enter the theatre, we are confronted with an mdf-boarded wall. It is as if someone has built us out of the city, and forgotten that we too are part of this world. It is, in all its simplicity, a scenographic stroke of genius, and instantly we can sense the premises of Wishful Beginnings. Man goes under, the world continue without us.
Award-winning and improvising.
Having received two Hedda awards for performance of the year in the last five years, Verk Produksjoner have climbed the ladder and entered the elite of Norwegian theatre. With a distinctive style, they investigate space, props, true stories, tales, and the relationship between stage and auditorium, as well as ritual theatre styles of the East.
Similarly to Stalker from 2013, this performance is based on a broad research, interviews with friends, and improvisation. Every scene can have 10-15 possible outcomes. Thus, what you see in a Verk-performance is completely unique.
What is Espen’s greatest fear?
Wishful Beginnings opens with Solveig Laland Mohn grilling actor Espen Klouman Høiner with questions.
What is your most embarrassing moment? Do you hope you will get more friends before you die?
Where would you rather like to die? Which type of cancer do you fear the most?
Laland Mohn’s voice is naive and friendly, while Høiner’s answers are staggering. It is as if we would all like to open up, as if we are in the first stage of a long after-party.
On stage, Høiner admits that he fears skin-cancer, and he is asked to play that this decease kills him on stage. At first he hesitates. Then he stands in front of the mdf-boards, to meet his certain stage death.
The ghost from Hamlet is already entering with an axe, wig and roman helmet. It is an extraordinary moment of theatre.
Høiner plays frighteningly realistic, as the procession of actors in plastic effects and skeleton masks is rather absurd. The scene has delightful multiple layers: It is a farewell to the traditional theatre, represented by Hamlet (which Høiner actually played last season at Trøndelag Teater), and it is a symbolic entry to the end of human existence.
Priests, confessions and moose under gunfire.
In the middle part of the performance, we are deeply into the apocalypse. People are replaced with robots and clones. The actors cover up with masks and clown-heads. It is a kind of theatrical horror cabinet, accompanied by confessions over the speakers.
Håkon Vassvik tells a story about a hedonistic sex-club in Amsterdam. The last living creature - a jewel embellished moose - is brutally shot down. Some sort of priest with an eastern mask dances confused on stage. In the apocalypse, even the rites are stripped of their meaning.
One powerful imagery overlaps another, in a logic of its own. It is well done.
However, often, it is as if the words get a little bit in the way of the space for interpretation. The more they spell out what it is they want to convey, the more it weakens the performance. The view of the modern world as a waiting-room for the apocalypse is not exactly new, and the research is more divergent than the theatrical idea.
One last secret.
When all is almost over, we feel beaten by impressions, and are getting overloaded with readings. I myself have tired of David Bowie-referencing, which feels too banal in the great big apocalyptic context.
But here, on the other side of the apocalypse, awaits the highlight of the performance. Espen Klouman Høiner is asked to conjure up a ghost. He does so with a quiet grimace, lighted in green. A masterful theatrical moment, which ends an apocalyptic after-party you should not miss.
The performance is played at Black Box Teater Oslo
Dates: 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. april at 19.00