A dying woman, spreading her pain on a canvas . A monster of an actress, spilling her guts on stage. The music, ear-throbbing, ripping, tearing the theatre apart. And then, calm. Crisis over. For a while. And then, it's even worse. The pain cannot sore higher than that, so it stops. Definitely.
Ivo Van Hove, a dutch director, chose Bergman's script Cries and whispers as material for his play. His take on Agnes's death was horrifying and heart wrenching. Just as un-watchable as the death of Agnes in Bergman's film, but different. Where Bergman's Agnes dies as modestly as possible within the circumstances - her guttural breathing is loud and insistent, but we feel like she would do anything to make it softer if she could - Ivo Van Hove's Agnes blows out in her final moments, in a tempest of body matter and energy.
In both cases, the battle between death and woman is shown with great candor and honesty, confronting the audience with the truth and the nastiness of the final moment, that last futile and necessary fight for life.
I was disappointed that Van Hove abided - for the most part - strictly to Bergman's script. It was only in those moments where Van Hove detached himself from the orthodoxy of Bergman storytelling that the stage images jumped out and reached me deeply. Fortunately, those moments were spectacular and intense, and worth all the other, less satisfying ones.
And the acting, incredible. Those women, all of them, just... beautiful. And cruel, and distant and fucked up.
I didn't feel so steady when it was time to leave. I had to wait a bit, gather myself up. Pick up the pieces. It had been a long time since I had been touched so viscerally by a performance. I'm glad there's still that kind of theatre out there and I'm glad I witnessed it.
The review in Libération: http://www.liberation.fr/theatre/0101558630-cris-et-enchantement
My review on http://www.lestroiscoups.com/ in a few days...