Venue: The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Date: 17th – 19th September 2015
Forced Entertainment returns to Scotland – this time, with scripted dialogue!
Running just over two hours, The Notebook features Robin Arthur and Richard Lowdon reading Ágota Kristóf’s novel of the same name. The story is about a pair of twins whom are left in the care of their cruel Grandmother during World War 2. The twins must adapt to their new life and the array of strange characters that they are surrounded by.
Sensitive subjects are no stranger to Sheffield based Forced Entertainment’s work as they delve into the twin’s experiences of abuse, assault and death. Emotion, however, is removed from the equation by the twins as they simply want to discuss the facts. But that does not mean that the audience does not experience the emotions one would feel. The sheer simplicity of the text and the image is plenty enough for the audience to experience the truth of the novel and the horrors within. The trauma experienced by the twins is effectively (and even brutally) conveyed for what it is.
In regards to the actual performance however, one can debate whether or not it is theatre or a staged reading as the stage consisted of nothing but two chairs, two bottles of water and the two performers themselves. While it would seem that Arthur and Lowdon are simply reciting the novel, there is something within their specific movements that matches the situations the twins find themselves in. Forced Entertainment powerfully demonstrate the power of the written word and of an audience’s imagination by stripping conventions down to the bare minimum to make the biggest impact.