I seldom rave about an experimental piece of theatre where different kinds of art form are blended and intertwined together but with this production of The End of Eddy that rave is justified. It is a technical masterpiece. Video playback and the enormous power of TV are shown as the mediums which stop people talking and even interacting with each other. A killer of family life where the patriarch wants complete silence as he enjoys his brain-numbing TV.
Pamela Carter as the writer and Stewart Laing as the director have taken Édouard Louis’s book ‘En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule’ and created a visually stunning assault on the senses which packs a verbal punch. Taking no prisoners, they stage a play that is totally captivating and absorbing. The two performers, Kwaku Mills and Alex Austin, are electric with both showing a mind-blowing commitment to sharing the role of Eddy.
This is powerful stuff: sharp delivery of an autobiographical story about a boy growing into adolescence in Hallencourt, a rural town in France, that time has forgotten. There is poverty, coming to terms with sexuality (with an emphasis on pre-pubescent comedy moments), the need to escape a trapped existence, the need to be rough and tough dealing with bullying with brutal consequences, and that you have to accept that suffering forms part of the system that people are expected to live by. Where your father can’t work due to illness and he is descending into a world of booze and abuse. The play also presents an intriguing look at persecution, facing dilemmas, the effect of violence and frustration caused by social deprivation – and where a loving mother is hanging on to what integrity she has.
This play pulsates with a passion that also – via direct addresses to the audience – adds to a very special evening at the Unicorn made ever more memorable by the two actors detailing what happened to the author. Fascinating and superb performances in pure synchronicity with their fellow actor. The End of Eddy shows us two exceptional talents. These performers are destined to go far. The cream of the crop in today’s youth theatre. An incredible achievement by all concerned.
Photos by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan