If Medea, who murders her young sons to avenge her pride, is a fit subject for drama, what isn’t?
That is a question you may find yourself asking with a shiver as you arrive at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to see “Five Easy Pieces,” which opened for a brief run there on Thursday. Seven children, age 11 to 15, sit artfully spaced across the stage, looking innocently at the audience as it prepares to watch them enact a story that makes Medea look like Maria von Trapp.
The story is that of Marc Dutroux, a Belgian pedophile who kidnapped, imprisoned and raped six girls in 1996; two he then buried alive, two starved to death in an underground chamber and two survived. Mr. Dutroux became such a national monster that, even before he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004, more than a third of Belgians with the same surname applied to change it.
So why ask children who missed the original to tell the tale now?
For Milo Rau, making his American stage directing debut, the perversity is the point. Commissioned to create a work of children’s theater, he set out to redefine what that genre could mean — and also, it seems, to live up to his reputation as “the world’s most controversial director.” After all, his company, which produced the Skirball engagement along with the Belgian arts center Campo, is called the International Institute of Political Murder.
That he redefines children’s theater, I’ll grant him. There are no puppets, folk songs or happy endings. But if there is controversy in “Five Easy Pieces,” it is, like everything else here, kept at a distance. With its weird calm, its surprising gentleness and its ingenious arsenal of theatrical deflections, it is such an aesthetic experience that it sometimes becomes an anesthetic one. And as thrilling as the writing and stagecraft are, once you finally get behind them I’m not sure you can approve of what’s at its core.
The first deflection is the introduction of the young actors not in their roles but as themselves. In a series of amusing interviews with an adult casting director (Hendrik Van Doorn), they tell us where they’re from, what pets they have, what they want to be when they grow up. Mr. Van Doorn, seated far upstage, is often seen on live video, making his simple questions seem like leading ones. Eventually we realize that he’s something of a seducer, softening up the children (and us) for the real story.
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That story is then told in five sections — the “easy pieces” of the title. Crucially, we never see the horror directly. Instead Mr. Rau gives us glancing reflections of it, as if scattered by a broken mirror: a day in the life of Mr. Dutroux’s 82-year-old father, an interview with a detective, the funeral of one of the girls.
Even beyond the charming naïveté of the young cast’s acting and their ludicrous notions of age makeup, these scenes are distanced by Mr. Rau’s choice to keep us flickering between the live presentation and the one onscreen. Further abstracting that experience, the screen version sometimes replaces the young cast with prerecorded adult actors performing the same script.
At least for those who do not understand Flemish, the onscreen version will generally win; that’s where the English supertitles are. The live vignettes are often difficult to see anyway, sequestered in various corners on the large, black stage.
Forcing a theater audience to reroute its urge toward naturalism, Mr. Rau encourages a consideration of the means of storytelling itself. When one of the victims writes her parents a “letter” from her subterranean prison, it is no longer a letter; it’s a video — and a pretty one at that.
That it’s also a fiction is less interesting than its almost pornographic intensity. To get the scene he wants, Mr. Van Doorn’s character not only coaches the young actress, Blanche Ghyssaert, into a performance of immense pathos but also forcibly undresses her, pulling off her pants so as to make her seem more vulnerable. Is she not vulnerable enough?
And though she is apparently willing to comply for her art, we cannot help but register discomfort as Mr. Dutroux’s crime is echoed in the power imbalance between the adult and the child.
Or indeed in the imbalance between director and audience. That imbalance is part of the bargain of contemporary theater, of course: never more so than in works of the European avant-garde. In notes on the production, Mr. Rau makes “Five Easy Pieces” sound almost like a pastry, with so many layers of intention folded into a mille-feuille that it cannot be unpacked.
One layer is political: the shameful history of Belgium as the colonizer of Congo, where Mr. Dutroux lived until he was 4. That shame, we are told, is somehow echoed in the murder investigation, so bungled it may have led to unnecessary deaths.
I’m glad I read about that because it wasn’t evident in the production itself, even though the Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba appears briefly. “Five Easy Pieces” seems only as political as a person who wears a small Time’s Up pin on a large coat.
Its real subject, or at any rate the most trenchant theme to emerge from behind its abstractions and intangibles, is the one suggested by the title, borrowed from Stravinsky’s book of études for young pianists. It is the performative nature of childhood, sometimes a source of great joy and solace — watch the young actors turn even death into a cheery theater game — yet so often exploited to serve adult concerns.
In that, “Five Easy Pieces” is remarkably successful, filled with stunning moments that pull you up short. When Fons Dumont, the boy playing the father of one of the dead girls, is unable to cry, Mr. Van Doorn first badgers him and then hands him a “tear stick” — a lipstick-like applicator of menthol and camphor. Voilà: a perfectly overflowing little bead of despair, glinting in blown-up video glory.
Mr. Rau is smart enough to let the play itself participate in the problem of how we use children for our own pleasure. But he does leave me wondering whether the atrocities used as a mere starting point here should really be open to aestheticization. Perhaps the victimized girls are worth more than that one gorgeous tear?B:
【那】【个】【时】【候】，【他】【脑】【子】【一】【片】【空】【白】，【拼】【了】【命】【挽】【回】。 【一】【股】【完】【全】【不】【属】【于】【这】【个】【世】【界】【的】【力】【量】，【几】【乎】【用】【睥】【睨】【的】【态】【度】，【压】【抑】【他】【的】【能】【力】。 【他】【为】【了】【留】【住】【她】【的】【灵】【魂】，【不】【顾】【一】【切】【用】【尽】【自】【己】【的】【生】【命】。 【跟】【恶】【魔】【签】【订】【契】【约】【都】【无】【所】【谓】。 【留】【下】【她】，【才】【是】【他】【唯】【一】【的】【目】【的】。 【最】【终】【换】【来】【的】【是】【她】【平】【平】【安】【安】【的】【一】【生】。 【夏】【亚】【紫】【色】【的】【眸】【呆】【呆】【看】【着】【自】【己】【的】
【在】【今】【儿】【上】【午】【得】【知】【韩】【老】【夫】【人】【进】【宫】【后】【便】【吩】【咐】【下】【去】，【她】【们】【几】【人】【今】【儿】【不】【必】【来】【了】。 · 【得】【知】【珍】【妃】【娘】【娘】【与】【韩】【老】【夫】【人】【已】【经】【在】【宫】【外】【觐】【见】，【皇】【后】【娘】【娘】【没】【有】【为】【难】【她】【们】【的】【心】【思】，【便】【让】【宫】【女】【去】【请】【她】【们】【进】【来】。 【韩】【安】【乐】【与】【韩】【老】【夫】【人】【进】【了】【正】【殿】，【皇】【后】【娘】【娘】【已】【经】【坐】【在】【了】【上】【首】【等】【着】【她】【们】。 【到】【了】【正】【殿】【中】【央】，【韩】【安】【乐】【与】【韩】【老】【夫】【人】【同】【时】【开】【口】，【福】【身】，“
【韩】【亦】【为】【闻】【言】，【猛】【地】【睁】【大】【了】【眼】【睛】。 【当】【时】【他】【只】【是】【出】【去】【打】【了】【个】【电】【话】，【眼】【前】【的】【人】，【竟】【然】【就】【知】【道】【他】【去】【吩】【咐】【人】【动】【张】【启】【涛】【的】【公】【司】【了】？ 【这】【是】【他】【猜】【的】，【还】【是】【他】【有】【什】【么】【特】【殊】【能】【力】？【亦】【或】【是】…… 【没】【等】【韩】【亦】【楠】【继】【续】【想】【下】【去】，【景】【曦】【口】【中】【再】【次】【传】【出】【了】【两】【个】【字】： “【猜】【的】。” 【这】【下】，【韩】【亦】【楠】【看】【向】【景】【曦】【的】【目】【光】，【直】【接】【从】【震】【惊】【变】【成】【了】【惊】【悚】。管家婆彩图大全红姐【老】【板】【低】【着】【头】【想】【了】【会】，【又】【扬】【了】【起】【来】，【摇】【摇】【头】，【淑】【苑】【觉】【得】【自】【己】【说】【话】【可】【能】【是】【伤】【到】【他】【了】，“【其】【实】，【要】【是】【多】【读】【些】【谋】【略】【的】【书】，【就】【算】【没】【在】【朝】【廷】，【在】【这】【里】【也】【是】【好】【的】。”【淑】【苑】【说】【道】。 “【罗】【织】【经】、【小】【人】【经】、【权】【谋】【术】、【守】【弱】【学】、【韬】【晦】【书】、【止】【学】、【解】【厄】【鉴】、【仕】【经】，【十】【三】【经】【注】【疏】【读】【下】【来】，【其】【实】【已】【经】【很】【好】【了】，【很】【多】【人】【一】【辈】【子】【都】【看】【不】【懂】。” “？？
【灵】【轻】【这】【边】【在】【神】【主】【府】【生】【活】【的】【风】【生】【水】【起】，【兰】【若】【溪】【那】【边】，【也】【布】【置】【好】【了】【计】【划】，【兰】【若】【溪】【给】【了】【灵】【轻】【一】【大】【包】**，【一】【人】【一】【兽】【打】【算】【来】【一】【个】【里】【应】【外】【合】。 【夜】【深】【人】【静】【的】【时】【候】，【姬】【铭】【落】【正】【高】【兴】【自】【己】【与】【灵】【轻】【关】【系】【越】【来】【越】【好】【了】，【却】【不】【知】【一】【个】【针】【对】【他】【的】【大】【网】，【正】【在】【悄】【悄】【的】【铺】【开】【了】，【只】【等】【一】【个】【契】【机】【就】【可】【以】【收】【网】【了】。 【长】【时】【间】【身】【处】【高】【位】【的】【姬】【铭】【落】，【比】【一】【般】
“【前】【辈】，【要】【不】【是】【阵】【法】【神】【奇】，【又】【如】【何】【能】【够】【瞒】【过】【那】【么】【多】【高】【手】【的】【探】【查】，【也】【不】【至】【于】【这】【么】【多】【年】【都】【没】【被】【人】【发】【现】。”【黄】【逍】【说】【道】。 “【就】【算】【如】【此】，【这】【道】【阵】【法】【也】【太】【过】【惊】【人】【了】【一】【些】。”【轩】【辕】【前】【辈】【脸】【色】【有】【些】【凝】【重】【道】，“【老】【夫】【曾】【见】【识】【过】【青】【铜】【钥】【匙】【对】【应】【的】【几】【处】【灵】【地】，【那】【些】【灵】【地】【的】【阵】【法】【远】【不】【及】【这】【里】。” “【真】【的】？”【霍】【炼】【有】【些】【惊】【讶】【道】。 “【怎】【么】？
【握】【草】。 【李】【成】【俊】【心】【中】【一】【万】【个】【曹】【尼】【玛】【飘】【过】。 【这】【林】【子】【美】【未】【免】【太】【尼】【玛】【开】【放】【了】【吧】。 【搞】【得】【李】【成】【俊】【脸】【都】【有】【些】【红】。 “【哎】【呀】【呀】【李】【成】【俊】【你】【脸】【红】【了】，【怎】【么】【你】【害】【羞】【了】？” 【李】【成】【俊】【没】【回】【应】【林】【子】【美】，【而】【是】【转】【身】【离】【开】【了】【洗】【手】【间】，【他】【怕】【自】【己】【在】【待】【一】【会】【会】【真】【忍】【不】【住】【对】【林】【子】【美】【做】【些】【什】【么】。 【不】【过】【这】【种】【受】【了】【刺】【激】，【然】【后】【没】【泄】【火】【的】【后】【遗】【症】【就】【是】