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The Burnt Child: cries and whispers at Ateliers Berthier

In the dark room, we hear whispers.

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The Burnt Child: cries and whispers at Ateliers Berthier

In the dark room, we hear whispers. It is a banal, cheerful conversation between a mother and her little boy who cannot sleep. But as soon as the stage lights up, suddenly a sinister order reigns. Here is Bengt (impressive Théo Oliveira Machado) surrounded by his father Knut (Vincent Disent) and Bérit (Lumîr Brabant), Bengt's fiancée.

The three characters are facing a hole or rather a grave. It's snowing. Bengt is around twenty years old. He deplores the death of his mother and soon the misconduct of his father because, from the second scene, Bengt reproaches him for having a mistress. He says, “ Is she beautiful? » The father replies: “I don't have to justify myself. » Bengt’s chilling reply: “To me no but to Mom, yes. » The father, cold: “She is dead. » The son, cutting: “She wasn’t always dead…”

This dialogue alone could sum up the atmosphere of this play adapted from the novel by Stig Dagerman (1923-1954) and directed by Noëmie Ksicova. The decor ? A single room as a concentrate of the entire house: the entrance, the living room, the bedroom. Behind a curtain, we can see another bedroom, that of the deceased. A war of nerves will play out between father and son for more than two hours.

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The Burned Child is the story of revenge. Bengt wants to avenge his mother for his father's infidelity but everything is not as simple as that. There is Greek tragedy in this Swedish drama. The tension between the two men will continue to rise and nothing will be able to stop it. The spectator observes Bengt's inner violence increasing. When Knut leaves home to join Gun, his mistress (Cécile Péricone), and he often returns drunk from his runaway, the sound of his footsteps in the snow is amplified. These cracks send shivers down your spine. One day, the father does not return alone. He is still holding a drunk but also has Hector, a large black dog, the fifth character in the play, on a leash. Where is he from ? We will learn his pedigree later.

Bengt immediately hates this dog because he loves no one except his dead mother whom he loves in an almost incestuous way. Soon, the father will introduce his mistress to his son. Terrible scene of a broken family where an explosion is expected. There won't be any. There will be worse: silence, meaningless sentences and the heavy presence of the ghost of the mother who was not a saint. We sometimes want to lower the blinds on this closed door so as not to see this Bengt descend into madness. Psychosis!

Soon, this little world finds itself again - some air! - in Gun's cabin, on an island. We discover a kind of lake where Knut and Gun are swimming. Bengt has a plan: seduce Gun. Will she sleep with him? Stale climate. The piece is punctuated with letters that Bengt writes to himself. Noëmie Ksicova's direction, austere and distressing, dismantles the cogs of the descent into hell of a young boy who learns that purity is not of this world. That snow is often dirty.

The Burnt Child, at the Odéon-Ateliers Berthier (Paris 17th). Until March 17. Tel.: 01.44.85.40.40. www.theater-odeon.eu

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