A chalkboard, a box of chalks, two overhead projectors and a laptop. In All That Is Wrong, these elements create an overwhelming piece of theatre that leaves an audience thinking about the power they possess in this huge world.
The play starts with Koba Ryckewaert writing about her life, but we slowly see how she connects her experiences to much bigger issues such as politics, money and war. With the help of her guide, played by Zach Hatch, she fills up a whole board with today’s problems and with the guilt of having little power to change them. Shocking news reports and heavy bass music (added by sound designer Jasper Taelemans) overlap each other, inspiring Ryckewaert with new words to add to her collection. Now and then Ryckewaert will address a line to the audience, with phrases such as “I write not to forget” and “I can’t understand everything”. Watching her write out all her thoughts in a mind map of terror, erasing and replacing words, left me considering how our minds all think the same – do we all feel the same guilt towards our helplessness? Am I the only one worrying about what I can’t change? Can I do more to help?
Rob Van Ertvelde’s simple lighting, set and use of projection helps portray the realism and artistry of the piece. The use of chalkboards and overhead projectors creates an almost classroom-like atmosphere, where Ryckewaert and Hatch are the teachers and the audience are the students. The bright lights shining on Ryckewaert make it feel almost like an interrogation, with her eyes fixed on all of the audience. Seeing everything crushed onto one board was powerful enough, but eventually Hatch joins in, adding words and replacing chalk words with heavy metal letters, as if Ryckewaert’s planning and thought tracking should be made into something more durable. Once their piece of work is done, they hoist the board up vertically where the audience get to see the finished piece. The metal letters fall to Ryckewaert’s feet, leaving an overwhelming effect on the audience. Immediately Ryckewaert starts to carry on her mind map on the floor, starting with “I” in the middle of the floor, like she did before. This time however she adds a few positive points, showing that despite the feeling of powerlessness we all have, together we can do a little more to raise awareness and put an end to these worldwide problems.
The performers and director Alexander Devriendt have successfully created a piece of theatre that will be unforgettable, thought-provoking and visually impressive. It is an engaging hour of harsh reality mixed with a glimmer of hope, with Ryckewaert’s simple message – “I will write”.
All That Is Wrong is playing at the Unicorn Theatre until 9 May. For more information and tickets, see the Unicorn Theatre website.