|The Roman Tragedies|
|The Roman Tragedies - the onstage make-up area.|
|The Roman Tragedies - spectators and TVs|
Van Hove cuts all the scenes where Shakespeare has the common people speak. The actors address the audience as "Friends, Romans, countrymen" - partly live but more tellingly through the medium of broadcast. We feel as if we could be part of the story, as if our role contains the potential for action - but in fact we spectate. The performance provides us with basic needs - we can work out when to take a loo break and the food is pretty good. But we retain our role as spectators even as we are offered the illusion of participation. For the last section of the performance, we are ordered back to our original seats, facing the conventional proscenium stage in a conventional hierarchical relationship - and of course, we unquestioningly obey. Even the final ovation, leaping to our feet as one, is somehow disturbing in this most uneasy of performances.
In June 2016, the people of Britain responded to a marketing campaign based on lies, misinformation and the manipulation of prejudice, conveyed through broadcast and social media. This led to the shocking referendum result, which has since been exploited as an expression of "the will of the people" to chilling effect - the Brexit process is being rushed through without consultation or democratic process. Trump's antics are only an Americanised manifestation of the same basic thing. Last week I was grateful to the Dutch for an election that stemmed the tide of populism, and for a piece of theatre that clarified just what is going on.