After having watched The Land of Nod at La Villette, I was electrified and deeply affected. Ever since, I follow closely FC Bergman’s tour which brought me to the 2018 Holland Festival.

Food Center Amsterdam. A man at the entrance looked like an actor. He turned out to be David Davidoff in the piece. After the ticket control behind the black curtain, a three-floor building stood alone in the center, fully blinded and enclosed by the seats at all sides. It reminded me immediately of the Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp. In the next four hours (incl. 30-minute intermission), I was completely seized by everything that happened inside this stage complex.

Unlike The Land of Nod, JR adds a dimension of dialogues. The book is only about dialogues, told me Thomas Verstraeten. FC Bergman must have spent a significant amount of time working on the text as my concern of being lost without reading the book didn’t happen. Initially, Ivo van Hove found the book and it was supposed to be a co-creation between them. I cannot tell how it would look like differently but the output undoubtedly confirms FC Bergman’s exceptional talent and capability.

In this adaptation, JR is the center but under the spotlights mainly are characters such as Edward, Jack and Amy, who represent the soul of the piece. Their chaotic lives are consequences of or in parallel with JR’s. The building can be imagined as a projection of JR himself who at the same time observes inside what’s going on. Surprisingly(at least for me), the stage idea and film use were decided at the very beginning of the project. FC Bergman intends to illustrate the chaos of the novel itself in this amalgam of genres and refers the building to capitalism. The stage complexity also means the large crew « behind the scene »: 76 including the cast. But Gaddis’s 700-page fiction deserves a meaningful scale.

The piece is not about morality as JR is purely amoral. FC Bergman built the tower but didn’t stay on the rooftop. They hide behind the camera extending our vision, questioning themselves and ourselves. Part of them are in Edward’s body as well.

I ordered the book JR recently and just started reading it. Also I plan to watch it again at la Villette next week.

Briefing in Dutch
First view of the building
JR on the floor
Snacking area
My bookshelf

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