De Fuut is a sanctuary – the safe place away from moral norms, hidden shame and pointing fingers. Here the Belgian playwright and performer Bastiaan Vandendriessche can indulge himself in his fantasies about being together with Leda and Emma.

“I’m every bit a liar… and more… I mean, I’m honest now, but in daily life… No one really talks about this…”

‘This’, that is fantasising about younger girls, sexually desiring them and wanting to touch the forbidden, the obscene, the scandalous: innocence.

Inspired by Nabokov’s Lolita, Vandendriessche’s brutally honest solo-show De Fuut is a daring and intellectually layered masterpiece in storytelling, merging reality and fantasies and clashing disarming openness and authenticity with a manipulative performance.

Vandendriessche creates an intimate encounter with the audience in a corner of the big performance space of Brufort at Summerhall. He changes openly into a blue robe, turns on the light and sits down. The shadow play projects a second room onto the wall: his silhouette in a room with table and chair – an interrogation room or a private living room?

He performs different roles: he confesses, he deceives, and he seduces. He shares his joy and ecstasy of returning as a Seascout leader of a summer camp in Ghent. This time is filled with harmony, growing intimacy and shared closeness with Leda and Emma, two young girls who have been under his protection. He speaks about sexual games and rituals, other leaders’ sexual obsessions and the blurry line between the playful and the serious – the moment when a game starts to become harming and abusing in real life.

The notion of paedophilia is never spelt out, never mentioned, yet it underlies every part of the story. Vandendriessche’s narrator turns it into something ‘natural’, something silenced, but real and true. His own confession becomes a disarming revelation. He presents the performance as a heroic courage to shed light upon the hidden darkness living in men. It is all a seduction, a trick, all a performance, isn’t it? The narrator aims for listeners, aims for sympathy, aims for understanding. His love seems pure, rare and other-worldly. ‘Leda and Emma know about the show’, he assures the audience. ‘It is for them’, he declares, only to clarify in the end that it is all for himself.

The charisma and charm of the narrator are stunningly genuine, and Vandendriessche gives a persuasive performance. It takes a strong will to distance oneself and to not be lured into the ‘bonfire’ atmosphere of De Fuut. It is a mind game playing and consuming the lines between fiction, fantasy and reality. The audience becomes part of the Seascout camp as the youth sitting in front of Vandendriessche, being scolded, and passionately encouraged. Leda and Emma are in the audience as well, until – transition – the audience is back in the auditorium resisting the staged justification. Personally, I needed time to find my way out of Vandendriessche‘s layered storytelling and De Fuut as a place in between right and wrong, black and white, sexual abuse and caring desire.

De Fuut is a genuinely manipulative show about silenced desire, moral disruption and the persuasive power of a charismatic performance. It is disturbing, provocative and challenging, and a cleverly and intriguingly constructed show. It questions the audience as much as it questions the narrator, performer and writer of the piece. De Fuut is a relevant and important piece about contemporary sexual corruption and the boundaries of a theatrical performance. Highly recommended to form an own opinion!

De Fuut is playing at Summerhall until 26 August. For more information and tickets, click here

Photo: Mundial Photo