This brilliant, utterly compelling hit play - a sell-out at the Edinburgh Fringe and Londons National Theatre - tackles the Beslan school siege from the perspective of two wise, indomitable youngsters caught up in the tragedy.
In 2004 a group of terrorists stormed a school in Beslan, Russia, taking hundreds of children hostage. Three days later, many were left dead. By capturing this terrible event from the unfiltered point of view of children, playwright and director Carly Wijs has created something unexpected and revelatory: a wryly humorous, poignantly matter-of-fact piece of theatre about how the young deal with trauma, and what leads people to do the unthinkable.
Strikingly physical in their performance, actors Gytha Parmentier and Roman Van Houtven bring a sense of innocence and levity to harrowing circumstances. Extreme situations are explained using expressive movement and absurd comic observation; choreography and conversation work exhilaratingly in tandem; and they cope with the unspeakable by constructing a world with its own creative logic, defined on a starkly minimalist set using only chalk lines, string and balloons.
Nothing short of remarkable, Us/Them is a disarming, profoundly provocative piece of theatre.
Recommended for ages 12+. The show is about a hostage situation although no actual violence is shown.
Writer & Director: Carly Wijs
Performers: Gytha Parmentier and Roman van Houtven
Co-creator: Thomas Vantuycom
Designer: Stef Stessel
Lighting Design: Thomas Clause
Sound Design: Peter Brughmans
Dramaturg: Mieke Versyp
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***** " playful as it is heart-breaking and thought-provoking."— The Guardian