Current Issue #488

Review: La Reprise

Review: La Reprise

There is much to unpack in this unconventional and at-times confronting staging of a 2012 Belgian hate crime and its aftermath.

In April 2012, a young man named Ihsane Jarfi was murdered by a group of men in a horrifying homophobic attack in the Belgian city of Liège.

The dramatisation of this shocking true story, and the process by which the dramatisation itself was developed, forms the basis of this multilayered work that plays with the concept of historical accuracy. We watch the actors auditioning for their parts in La Reprise itself, learn how they researched the roles, meet them again as Ihsane’s family, friends and killers, and watch a recreation of the horrendous violence to which Ihsane was subjected.

There is much brilliance in this work, and the play succeeds best at exploring the gulf left by the loss of a human life. One devastating scene lays bare the grief, guilt and coping strategies of Ihsane’s parents, while another tackles the almost ineffable empathy of a local resident who feels compelled to attend and bear witness to the trial of the murderers.

Some exceptional staging breathes life into complex themes. An on-stage camera operator films live action footage that, projected onto a large screen, blends quite seamlessly with more detailed, pre-recorded footage of the same scene. The resulting variation between the action on stage and on screen offers an impactful representation of the nature of recollection and the construction of truth.

In the opening monologue, the audience is asked to forget about the actors and focus on the story – it is likened to how when ordering pizza, the main event is not the delivery driver. But then, having delivered a transfixing and compassionate portrait of Ihsane’s life and subjecting the viewer to a graphic re-enactment of his death (and make no mistake, that scene is difficult to watch), the decision to return focus to the actors at the end of the play somehow serves to diminish Ihsane’s story.

It leaves a lingering question of, “to what end?” But, in keeping with an overarching theme of everyday evil, perhaps that is the point – and whether this intrigues or frustrates will depend on the viewer. Either way, La Reprise is likely to play on the mind.

La Reprise was performed at Space Theatre on Tuesday, March 5

La Reprise
Monday, March 4 – Thursday, March 7

Space Theatre

Header image:

Michiel Devijver

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox