Play based on the novel «The Notebook» by Ágota Kristóf. Translated from the French by Eva Moldenhauer. Recommended ages: 14 and over
It is wartime. The nine year-old twins Lucas and Claus are sent to live with a grandmother they do not know in a small town near the border. Called a witch by the people of the village, she only takes in these «sons of bitches» against her will. They are looking for security and sympathy in a place where every individual is fighting for themselves and losing. The brothers soon realise that the only way they can possibly survive in this brutal society will be to stand up to it by being mercilessly tough. With an iron discipline they chasten themselves with exercises to toughen up their bodies and minds: they starve, they steal, they beat each other, they kill. In the course of this they drift increasingly into an uncompromising value system of their own. Their life is documented in matter of fact and unsentimental terms in a notebook. This becomes a chilling account of their progressive brutalisation and at the same time shocking testimony to their lost childhood. When the opportunity presents itself, Claus escapes across the border of what has now become a totalitarian state. But despite their physical separation the twins appear to be linked forever by an invisible bond. Their identity increasingly reveals itself as an indecipherable construct of dreams, memories, lies and truth.
Just as many people are now forced to leave their homelands, Ágota Kristóf also left her native Hungary for western Switzerland during the revolution of 1956 and thirty years later she published her first novel in French as «The Notebook».
Director Tilmann Köhler, who is a proven expert at the adaptation of prose works, directs at Theater Basel for the second time – after «The Black Spider» by Jeremias Gotthelf – and on this occasion has chosen a text that has preoccupied him for a long time: «I am fascinated by the author’s formal decision to ban emotion from the language and force us to become observers. As a result one is called upon to fill in the gaps personally. With a stream of images of hidden conflicts that have been remembered unconsciously, with the history of this continent that is still present but which we love to hide and with the childhood images and blind spots from our own lives. It’s a woodcut, in black and white».
Preisstufe 4 (von 30.– bis 60.–)