Without Blood, more than a play, is a storytelling performance.
As the director Inne Goris says during the post-show talk, her working method is quite simple: in the first place, she decides what story she wants to tell; in the second place, she discovers how she wants to tell it; and, to finish, she figures to whom she is going to tell it. This experience is all about the “telling”- attending with closed eyes would be an interesting experience.
Without Blood is based on Senza Sangue, by Alessandro Baricco. The novel and its stage adaptation tells the story of a little girl who saw her father and brother being murdered by a commando seeking revenge whilst she herself escaped the massacre thanks to a trap door. Fifty-two years later, she finds one of the murders and invites him to a cafe, where they talk about the moment when they crossed each other’s life.
For Goris, having the story selected and clearly knowing this was an “adult story”, she had to focus on the “how”. According to her, there are some things that an actor can’t play; such as an accelerated heart; adrenaline as it is such a subjective and bodily feeling. Her answer to this limitation was to give the audience all the details they needed to know and feel how it is to be in front of a killer or with someone that may be about to kill you.
In a very minimalist set, created by overlapping squares of different materials, the actors barely move during the entire play. Instead, interlacing direct and indirect speech to play the role of actors and narrators, they describe their thoughts, feelings, perspectives and versions of the story.
At this point, it’s impossible to avoid a representation of the narrative in one’s mind.
The actor’s words, accompanied by the atmospheric music of Dominique Pauwels, become alive in the viewers imagination, creating a need for affiliation: “Who should I believe the most?”, “Which side should I take?”, “How is a version more true than the other?”, “What would I have done?”
While Baeyens will lull the audience with her voice, Lieve Meeussen, although struggling with the English accent, will show how surprisingly a human being can react; Johan Leysen will invite them to feel compassion for a murderer and dare them to question if they could ever kill a child.
Without Blood is playing at the The Place until 8 of June as part of LIFT festival. For more information and tickets, see the LIFT festival website..
Photo: Koen Broos