May 18, 2014 19:00
In an unnamed city, in an anonymous European country, Helver and Carla are hiding. As a civil war rages outside, they know that is only a matter of time before they are found. But the mentally disturbed Helver is hugely excited by what he can only comprehend as one big game of soldiers. He is inspired by Gilbert, a fascistic paramilitary leader. Although he has been enthusiastically joining in with Gilbert’s campaign to rid the country of “filthy scum”, he has no concept of the immediate danger that he himself is in.
This play, from Polish playwright Ingmar Villkvist, deals with how the increasing militarism of a society seeps into even the most domestic of settings. Although the specific setting is ambiguous, it could refer to any country that has seen violent conflict – from Nazi Germany, to the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda. By comparing Helver’s obsession with Gilbert to his unthinking abuse of Carla, the show explores how easily people can be manipulated in times of mass hysteria.
Whilst the play’s ending holds few surprises, and the production does verge on the sentimental at times, it still provides a useful insight into how human beings cope when they have nowhere else to run.