Reading a book while watching a performance? Or how Mette Edvardsen turns you upside down

by Hans-Maarten Post

Review of every now and then, Kaaitheaterstudio’s, 5 December 2009, Brussels.

How was it? I wish all artists would do as Mette Edvardsen, and hand out a book with pictures of every scene of their performance. Upon coming home or meeting friends, you wouldn’t have to try and find the right words to describe what you’ve seen. You just show the book. But of course, this being Edvardsen: there’s more to the concept than just this. The Brussels-based Norwegian performer invites her audience to flip through that book while they are watching Edvardsen’s new performance Every now and then. If you do so, strange things start to happen.

Frankly: I was surprised by how such a highly conceptual performance can be magical as well. But that entirely depends on you, as an audience member. If you’re just watching Every now and then, in the same way as you would be looking at every other performance, you will surely be bored out of your mind. You’ll just be seeing a couple of simple scenes: a guy (Philippe Beloul) eating an apple, a girl carrying a sansevieria, somebody sitting on a chair, two people walking.

But by flipping through the book, while watching, you’ll feel like you’ve opened a conjuring book. At first you think: OK, all these pictures show me what I’m going to see on stage, as both performers strictly follow the book. But then, all of a sudden, they aren’t anymore. You start turning those pages again and again. Where are they at, now? What’s going to happen? Did I see this? Did I just miss that? I hear a ladder, but I don’t see a ladder. Right, here it is, in the book. And then both worlds collide. And Every now and then becomes about that performance in your head, as well.

‘We want to explore what takes place outside the pages, beyond the rooms, between the times, in the folds of the book, along the edges of space. Is the space in ‘Every now and then’ the representation of the book or is the book the representation of the space? What came first, the book or the space? Is one a model of the other? Are we performers models of the figures in the book? Is the performance a memory of what was happening in the book, or is the book the trace of the performance? And if so, how can the book possibly exist before the performance is over?’

Those are some of the things Mette Edvardsen and Philippe Beloul want to explore. Excuse me while I turn off the lights. I’m gonna flip through my book once again, here at home, and relive Every now and then. And again. And again.

Article published in utopia parkway blog 6 December 2009: