Hansel and Gretel is about isolation and the possibility of overcoming it, and about our relationship with morality: what aspect of the morality with which we have been imbued, very often to our own cost, persists in us despite all opposition?
Following a forbidden love, a brother and sister have become distanced from one another since childhood. Years later, they meet in the cellar of the family home to consummate their love in secret. The story takes place on their wedding day. In order to make it an occasion, they have invented a cast of guests whom they themselves have filmed and played on camera. A throng of friends, cousins and relations on parade in the intimacy of their cellar. But as the evening progresses, the guests become less friendly and the skeletons do not take long to come out of the closets… They will become prisoners in a game of their own making.
In the centre of the stage is a large decorated wedding table is. The actors/characters are sat in the middle. Sitting imposingly alongside them are seven television screens showing close-ups of their guests faces. The audience assists in a game of identity hide-and-seek in which the actors/characters struggle with their own production and enter into fierce combat with themselves. A perpetual mise en abîme, the set is at the centre of a plot with multiple layers.
Highly impressive, the new production from Jean-Benoit Ugeux and Anne-Cécile Vandalem continues their exploration of solitude which began with Zaï Zaï Zaï Zaï. We encounter an isolated couple, this time confronted with their wedding guests. But nobody is there: the married couple have played and filmed their guests themselves. The synchrony between the actors and the tv screens is staggering. The sense of coldness which it creates is equally incredible. Our attention gets lost somewhat, but the mind seethes as we gradually understand the profound reasons behind all these goings on. A production which is as distressing as it is majestic.
Laurent Ancion, Le Soir, 2006.