a duel in the heart of darkness

by time news

It is an apocalyptic universe that Kristian Frédric wanted for his staging of one of the strongest texts by Bernard-Marie Koltès, written in 1985, entrusting Enki Bilal with the task of imagining a setting that marries his choice. The cult comic book author rushed into it, inventing a most dark atmosphere, also creating the costumes and the poster for the play which shows two men leaning against each other, losing their balance, the frightened look.

Aramaic, the “language of Christ”

So here we are plunged from the beginning in a darkness that will never rise and which covers a wasteland swept by a rain of dust, drowned in wisps of smoke emanating from a heap of rubbish. Indistinct grunts, barking dogs, muffled crashing noises… evil forces seem to be unleashed.

At the heart of this chaos rises a voice – the recorded voice of comedian Tchéky Karyo – whispering strange words. Kristian Frédric took liberties with the original text, adding passages in Aramaic, the “tongue of Christ” – translated into French – and subtitling the play with a phrase taken from Genesis, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries from the earth to me”the interrogation of God when he asks Cain where Abel is.

A demonic game

In this “biblical” context, two men will confront each other, two enemy brothers, unknown to each other. The Dealer, perched on a rock made of black clay, is embodied by the convincing Ivan Morane, with a clear and powerful voice, dressed all in black, tattoos emerging on his chest and his shaved head. In front of him, the Client.

His foot stuck in an iron rail, encased in a white suit, Xavier Gallais lends him his features and his feverish energy, always on the alert, on the lookout for prowling animals. The two characters observe each other, gauge each other, apostrophize each other in a demonic joust, each seeking to gain power over the other. The subject of their dispute? Desire and its counterpart, frustration. The seller seeks to arouse that of the potential buyer, the latter dodges the attack, each finally revealing himself dependent on the desire of the other…

The incandescent language of Koltès

If the two actors impress by the intensity of their acting, the overly powerful sound effects, the contortions and the frenzied cries of the Chained Client, the assumed slowness in the alternation of the monologues, the additions in Aramaic divert the attention from this titanic combat, without winner or loser. There remains the incandescent language of Bernard-Marie Koltès where humanity vibrates with all its strings as here in the words of the dealer: « Do not refuse me to tell me the object, please, of your fever (…), say it as one says it to a tree, or facing the wall of a prison, or in the solitude of a cotton field, in which one walks, alone, at night. »

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