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Posts Tagged ‘Carly Wijs’

This little gem comes to the National from Belgium via the Edinburgh fringe. Good to see the NT hosting an overseas company again.

Writer / director Carly Wijs’ highly original play tells the story of the Beslan siege through the eyes of the children, played by just two young actors, Gytha Parmentier and Roman Van Houtven, both terrific. They create the footprint of the school with chalk on a black floor and begin by telling us where everything is and where everyone was at the beginning of the morning on the swelteringly hot first day of school. They then explain events as they unfold in a very factual and, well, childlike way. They stretch string back and forth the stage to show how the gym was wired with bombs. Numbers play a big part, written in chalk on the back wall. They describe both the actions of the hostages (us) and their captors (them).They re-enact the rescue, through to their trip to hospital and their joy at their fifteen minutes of fame.

The performances capture every nuance of the behaviour of children, laying it out logically, factually and unemotionally. The combination of innocence, curiosity and obsession with certain facts and details is authentic, charming and moving. It’s mostly told looking straight at the audience, but at times dance-like movement is used very effectively. It might sound odd when I say that a play about a dreadful tragedy is beautiful and captivating, but that’s what it is.

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