“Often a more naive vision of this Russian tale has been made, but we wanted to talk about the cruelty of a war,” explains director Alex Ollé. He admits that for the staging the letter of suicide was revealing and a “key element” because it expresses very well the trauma of combatants who are unable to resume their lives.
In the prodigious version of La Fura, Ollè literally places us inside the brain and the thoughts of a soldier who is in a coma in a hospital. In his bed, the young man lives a delirium, a schizophrenic situation in which the devil is presented as the voice of unconsciousness, as the alter ego of the soldier. The powerful theatrical story captures the emotional intensity, bitterness and scraps of a soldier’s life shattered by the horror of war.
All this in a hard show, with some texts of interest, mainly the satirical and poetic of Ramuz in the language of Molière that the Belgian actor shelled with excellence and that marries very well with the spirit of this chamber work created by Stravinsky for a traveling theater, with a strong influence of jazz and catchy dance rhythms such as waltz or ragtime. A score that was performed with great efficiency by musicians of the Camera Musicae Symphony Orchestra and especially by the young violinist Bernat Bofarull who contrasts with the weight and hardness of the stage direction, the images of war and torture and the silences that are seen sweetened by the musical fragments of the great score. The work ends up being a powerful criticism of the wars that left a strong impact on the Festival’s public due to its dramatic strength.
An uprooted and horrified Stravinski is updated with Ollé’s look, adding to the work a new historical and social context, since in his proposal the is joining references such as Dalton Trumbo’s film ‘Johnny took his rifle’, in that a soldier in a coma creates an ‘alter ego’ to do everything he never could, “which opened up the possibility of turning the piece into an inner drama,” the director clarifies. To that he adds a bitter bite of reality, the dramatic letter of the American soldier Daniel Somers, a war hero who fought in Iraq and returned home with a post-traumatic syndrome to end up committing suicide in 2013, without being able to forgive himself for having participated in a massacre.
In this new proposal, the narrator, the soldier and the devil are represented by a single actor, a splendid Sébastien Dutrieux. In this way, the devil is not presented as an external existence, as an evil that comes from outside, that there is but that could not be there, but rather as the inevitable dark corner of ourselves. The devil is us.