Saturday 20 August 2016

Cosmic Fear – Bedlam, Edinburgh

[seen 13/08/16]

Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia, to give it its full title, is a 2008 Danish piece by writer/director Christian Lollike.

C  – This is the trailer for the original production:

[doesn’t show trailer]

A – I really like the look of that! I shouldn’t have watched it before writing this review!

B – I mean, I do like Empty Deck’s production of the piece. I do. It’s energetic, and kind of on-board with a load of stuff that I’m enthusiastic about in terms of staging...

C – But?

B – Look, this is probably down to my tendency to overthink things as much as anything real – I do think the play-in-translation and/or production just run into the simple problem of Not-Our-Culture a bit...

A – Put simply, Cosmic Fear is (intentionally) quite a frenetic, overwrought, hysterical piece – maybe a bit like the style of earlier Rene Pollesch pieces as well. It’s riddled with irony, and as an Englishman, used (still, mostly) to English Theatre, it’s difficult to pin down precisely in terms of what it says, or wants to be saying, or seen to be saying, or what it’s ironising exactly, or not ironising...

C – Sorry. It feels like you’ve gone all Michael Billington. But, yes, I wasn’t sure what I was meant to be taking away from the performance, or what I was meant to be digging out of it. In part, that might be to do with the fact that the piece is almost a decade old now. It feels like maybe no one’s using that sort of mode of irony across Europe now. Like we’ve all sobered up a bit or something. Not that there’s some sort of “new seriousness”, God forbid, but at least that, I don’t know, that we’re all a bit more...

B – The irony’s different now. Yes. The stagings maybe all still look the same, or similar; i’m not saying there hasn’t been evolution...

A – The vanity of small differences...

C – The vanity of... MAYBE. BUT... NO... It’s not just that. I mean, maybe I am imagining it, but it does feel like things are a bit fundamentally different now to 2008, about how we talk about things now. We’re that bit more respectful now? Or worried? Or aggressive? Or distracted by other things...?

B – There’s not really all that much difference between now and 2008, surely?

A – There are literally hundreds of millions more people on the plant now. In 2008 the world population was 6.7 billion. It’s now 7.4 billion. How is this not terrifying? That’s eight fucking years, man [you can look those figures up, BTW, they’re real].

C – And this is what the play’s like?

A – This is pretty much what the – don’t call it “a play” – is pretty much what the thing is like.

B – set?

A – Sofa, tent, projection screen at the back, mic stand at the front, mess.

C – Cool!

A – *Quite* cool.


A – Yeah! It’s quite a frenetic pace throughout!!!

C – You sound disapproving!!!

A – No! It’s not my place to approve or disapprove! IT DOES WHAT IT DOES!!!

B – She disapproves!

A – I didn’t say that!!!

[C plays the trailer of the original production. Blackout]

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