Punchdrunk Theatre Company has dared to submerge the audience in a Gothic-Surrealist atmosphere like in its very well called Immerse Theatre. Temple Studios, a large and high old building, is the chosen place where the adaptation of the gloomy Büchner’s work, Woyzeck, is taking place in the city of London.
The spectator is introduced to the dark scenario wearing a white mask which allows him to differentiate between the public and the actors. Immediately he finds himself locked in a metallic lift where his journey to an unknown world of sex, violence and despair begins. The spectacle is distributed among different floors and spaces where darkness and bright colours are intertwined to create a high tension experience behind different musical tonalities which make of the journey a very sensorial one. Indeed, the play is based on effects, dancing, body expressions rather than on narration.
Every character has his own story and the spectator is left to follow the destiny whomever he wishes running through corridors, scales, and sandy or wet grounds. The adultery story of Woyzech takes now place in some uncanny Hollywood studios where young actors die mysteriously and relationships are unreliable. Immersed in the life of the characters, the spectator becomes a voyeur completely ignored by the actors; he can touch all kind of structures and decoration, open drawers, read letters, observe closely the reactions of the characters being always unnoticed.
The Others (2001), a film by Pedro Amenábar, is an interesting adaptation, though a very personal one, of Henry James’ novel The Turn of the Screw (1898). If in the film, the two children are alive and the two apparitions represent to be death, in the novel, the two children are death and the supposed phantoms are not so but alive intruders in the house. This difference makes a kind of mirror effect between the novel and the film, both being highly thrilling in their respective forms.
The main point of the story remains in both sides: the role of the children in the relations between death and life. That’s exactly what the first narrator in James’ novel affirms to be “another turn of the screw” as two children in a scary story becomes more dreadful than just one. In fact, the first inhabitants of the house to be aware of the presence of the others are the children. But in this case there is as well another mirror effect. In the novel, the little boy is more liable to see the phantoms, while in the film, it is the girl who first realises of the presence of the others.
Both the novel and the film present together a similar story from different points of view. If true that Amenábar did not offer a faithful adaptation, his creativity is nonetheless valuable. In fact, the best way to approach the film is keeping in mind the novel and vice versa. Moreover, both mediums writing and film making are also complementary which provokes a nice encounter between two different periods of time.
I really recommend this adaptation of Euripides’ Medea by the Irish dramatist Marina Carr, By the Bog of Cats. The classical themes of madness, love and despair are greatly put into scene in a totally new setting. The atmosphere represents an in-between of the land of the deaths and the alive; ghosts, witches, snow, gipsies and black swans revive the classical tragedy. Childhood trauma is the modern Freudian incursion in the new tragedy which substitutes Medea’s cold vanity for a traumatic Hester. Irish mythology also finds its place in the work together with some Greek elements. Parricide is displayed in a very different way and is linked to the cause of Hester madness, the abandon of the mother.
The question however remains the same: are children at the mercy of their parents? Could someone justify the murder of an own child?
I find a quite contemporary issue to analyse the position in which children are in relation to their parents or in a family. Until what extent are they used or manipulated by their parents’ emotions and to achieve what goals? Citing Girard, could we say about the children to be the scapegoat of our society or even of their own parents?