Edinburgh International Festival 2023
Brazilian film and theatre director Christiane Jatahy brings her theatrical work to the UK for the first time in this arresting performance of Dusk, based on Lars von Trier’s film Dogville.
The Comédie de Genève has created a new play adaptation based on Lars von Trier’s well known film Dogville. Award-winning Christiane Jatahy is credited for the staging, direction and adaptation of Dusk. Dusk is making its UK premiere at the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). In an interview on the EIF website Jatahy says that she found it interesting that von Trier looked towards the theatre to make his film and now Jatahy looks at the film in order to create the theatre piece.
This play focuses on Graça, from Brazil, a woman who fled the oppression in her homeland. She is found by a group of actors who are making a film of their version of Dogville and offer her refuge with them.
What is different from the group’s upcoming film is that they want to find another ending than the one in the original film. Various members of the group discuss ideas for the film as if in real time, including welcoming Graça to stay, perhaps she can help them on the film? All the spoken dialogue is in French with supertitles in English throughout Dusk.
Live filming starts on the huge stage of their theatre and the large cast of actors perform scenes and comment on their work. The interesting sprawled out set comprises a veritable living environment in every corner – with various furniture denoting a home setting including a bed, shelving, desks chairs with a dining area. The set pieces move around the stage into new formations creating numerous settings (Thomas Walgrave artistic collaboration, set and lighting designer).
The view from the camera is projected onto a large screen onstage and includes some clever well timed video techniques that switch the time and place in flashes of scenes (Paulo Camacho director of photography and Julio Parente and Charlélie Chauvel video designers).
The members of the theatre group are fascinating and include, Tom, Elise, a couple with a failing marriage, Ben – a friendly driver and handyman, Marta who plays the piano, Vera and her son Archille, and the philosophical Jacques. A palette of very stylish costumes by costume designer Anna Van Brée bring out the range of characters and their personalities well.
They find the limits to how one can become a victim of exploitation an interesting topic for discussion, as well as levels to tolerance and acceptance and how is this affected by racism? The second half takes a turn when the niceties of this society become rankled and in conflict – the grist of theatre. Intense conversations and scenes polarise and the group seeks answers.
Jatahy’s direction and the cast bring this story to life so well in their believable characters and relationships with a range of emotions: Véronique Alain, Julia Bernat, Paulo Camacho, Azelyne Cartigny, Philippe Duclos, Vincent Fontannaz, Delphine Hecquet, Viviane Pavillon, Matthieu Sampeur, Valerio Scamuffa.
Dusk is clear in its intentions and the result is a provocative piece of theatre that will not appeal to all. However, for those that like their theatre deconstructed and creative yet with a solid backbone, this may be for you!