(Susannah Clapp’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/31; Photo: The Guardian.)

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, live stream
Playing multiple roles – and all the music – four young actors dazzle in Eline Arbo’s superb staging of Édouard Louis’s brutal coming-of-age novel

This story of an outsider looks more central each time it is told. Édouard Louis’s 2014 biographical novel The End of Eddy follows a boy growing up gay and bullied in a poverty-stricken town in north-eastern France. It has been translated into more than 20 languages and was given a sharp staging three years ago at Edinburgh, in a version by Pamela Carter. International theatre, livestreamed and subtitled, has come closer during the pandemic. Last Saturday, a 2020 adaptation of Louis’s book by the young Norwegian director Eline Arbo could be caught on screen. Performed in Dutch, but with English subtitles, at the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, it was transcendent.

Juul Dekker’s design encases the action in a shell of crinkled plastic: you can hear it crackle underfoot. It could be a collapsed parachute, a ruffled igloo – or the veined interior of a skull. It is flimsy as shelter but it hides sky and horizon: when lifted away at the end, you realise how much light it has shaded.

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