Skip to main content

REVIEW: The End of Eddy – Melbourne Festival



The End of Eddy by Pamela Carter is based on the book En finir avec Eddy Belleguele, a memoir by Edouard Louis about growing up gay and poor in a small French village.

Normally I would describe the world of a play before I get to the credits and give a sense of the kind of story you’re going to see. But this production is as much about adapting the book into theatre as it is about Eddy himself.

Two performers, Oseloka Obi and James Russell-Morley, play Eddy and all the other characters – sometimes on stage and sometimes on one of four video screens. There were four televisions in Eddy’s house when he grew you, you see. It’s that kind of production, too.

The actors also take their time to explain the differences between the book and the play: you can’t fit everything from a book into ninety minutes on stage, and theatre has different responsibilities than books, too, apparently. The show makes statements like this and never really explores them. They fundamentally change one of the final scenes of the book to make it more theatrical – and rob the story of some of its poignancy.

Pamela Carter and director Stuart Laing have teamed up with Unicorn Theatre, one of the UK’s premiere theatre companies making work for young audiences. And this work does feel aimed at teenagers, while also missing the mark. This production is at times inventive and at times held back by its Brechtian aesthetic. Yes, there is fun to be had with live performers interacting with TV screens, but also that felt like a barrier to connecting with Eddy and his situation. It was certainly a barrier to connecting with moments played at the bus stop at the back of the stage.

I laughed out loud a few times and I was fascinated by a few fleeting details about life in the French countryside versus the cosmopolitan view of France I have through films and novels set in Paris. There’s a moment late in the play where Eddy describes a moment of affection – a kiss on both cheeks – that is a world away from his home town, but evocative of the kind of thing I associate with the French. That’s the kind of detail that is rare in this show, with a UK production translating the work into British slang and making me wish I was getting a better insight into Eddy’s real life.

There are some universal truths in the play about toxic masculinity and how brutal society can be to those in the country, those who are poor and those who aren’t heterosexual. The End of Eddy tries to tell a story that’s at the intersection of these things but doesn’t really illuminate any of them.

I watched this show mostly as a theatre maker, trying to understand the choices being made, because I couldn’t engage that much as a viewer. I was stuck in my head, trying to understand why this adaptation works the way it does, because I rarely felt anything. And I should have felt something. Feeling like an outsider in high school is my story, too.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Favourite Theatre of 2018

It’s that time of year again, when I look back over everything I saw on stage and put together a list of my favourite shows. I saw over 100 shows this year, mostly in Melbourne and a small number on one visit to Sydney.

I will link to reviews if I wrote one.
TOP TEN (alphabetical order)
The Almighty Sometimes – Griffin Theatre, Sydney
Kendall Feaver’s extraordinary debut play is about Anna, dealing with mood disorders and medication and the complicated relationship she has with the treatments and her mother. Superb cast and beautifully directed by Lee Lewis
Blackie Blackie Brown – Malthouse Theatre
Nakkiah Lui’s work is always amazing but this production, directed by Declan Green, was another step up for her – the satire sharper and bleaker and more hilarious than ever before.
Blasted – Malthouse Theatre
Sarah Kane’s debut play from 1990s London is a tricky beast tackling difficult subjects but Anne-Louise Sarks nailed it with a superb production.
The Bleeding Tree – Arts Centre Melbourne

A Thing Isn’t Beautiful Because It Lasts: Avengers in the AGE OF ULTRON

The latest film in the Marvel Universe series feels like nothing so much as a season finale. And since Joss Whedon was once the master of creating season finales that were both emotionally satisfying and thematically resonant, it’s good to have him in charge for the second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.
I’d like to compare it to the epic scope of Buffy’s “The Gift” but it feels more like Angel, if anything. Things change, the world moves on – and the best you can do is keep fighting. And embrace change.
Tony Stark has always been flawed, but by the third film in his own trilogy, he seemed to have found an emotional peace. But with that peace comes the idea that he can use his technology – his faith in machines being his tragic flaw – to create a replacement for the Avengers. He births an army of robots to calm the populace and fight alien foes.
Robert Downey Jnr’s Stark is such a towering figure in the Marvel Universe films – and to make him partly the villain of this new film is a s…

You are far away: Agent Cooper and his troubling return to Twin Peaks

“What year is this?” Dale Cooper asks in the final scene of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last of many unanswered questions left as the 18-part feature film concluded a week ago.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen someone who looks like Dale Cooper lost for answers over recent months. But it might be the first time we have definitive proof that he’s in over his head.
Mr C, Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, who was first seen in the original series’ finale back in 1991, returned to the town of Twin Peaks with a goal in mind. Mr C was flexible, though. He had to be; he’d set so many things in motion over twenty-five years, if he’d remained fixated, he would never have come as far as he did.
Dougie, Dale Cooper’s tulpa – created by and from Mr C, wandered aimlessly through life, but slowly made every life he touched better. Plans change and Dougie changed with them. Slowly but surely, Dougie pieced together Cooper’s past life and became richer for it.
Agent Cooper, the third part of this T…