By Danjel Andersson, Dagens Nyheter 08.10.2000
"Ethnic voices caress and collide"
In "Régla" Verdensteatret relates freely to Heiner Müller 's "The Mission". The result is beautiful, revolting and uplifting, writes Danjel Andersson.
The scene is white and lead one's thoughts to the sunken Atlantis or one of Titanic's lounges at the bottom of the ocean. White corals grow over the antique tables and the broken mirrors, the floor is covered by fine sand. From the loudspeakers flows ambient sounds and across the stage there is a projection of "snow", like when the TV is turned off and the programming has ended. One can think of a dreamed place - a setting with extreme suggestive power. Four Scandinavians have come here, from the Norwegian performance-collective Verdensteatret. On stage we see the Swedish Marta Oldenburg and Martin Lundberg, the Danish Per Flink Basse and the Norwegian Lars Øyno, and all of them speak their own language. They represent themselves on stage and draw upon roles from Heiner Müller's piece "The mission" from 1979. Here, however, the piece is called Regla and with great liberty it relates to the text. During the play films are projected onto the white scenography, echo of voices from the loudspeakers caress ethnic tones and collide with what happens on stage; sometimes the words glide into each other and are pronounced simultaneously. No one would be more pleased than Müller. It is as if the group have captured his words about participatory decision-making (everyone appears as a creator, there is no explicit director) and it is almost as if he foresees this very performance when he says during an interview: "One has to link one thing onto the next, so that it may work simulaneously." Here video art is placed alongside performance, sculpture and installation, as well as text and music. All together it turns into a powerful, beautiful, revolting and uplifting theater with roots in the American avantgarde, as well as in the Belgian and of course the German theater.Müller's text is a kind of conjuring of the revolution. Words pour forth and the connections are unclear, we meet rebel leaders from France and Haiti on Jamaica. The lines get repeated, are played fast forward and are left out - without any sign of illusion or interpretation in the general sense. Marta Oldenburg is Sasportas, a black Haitian, but we don't need any exterior sign to aid our understanding. She wears a dress and her long hair, the color of red autumn leaves, loose, her skin glowing white. She is Marta and Sasportas at the same time. Some scenes have put their mark on my inner archive. For instance, when Martin Lundberg is reading a newspaper that suddenly bursts into flames in his hands or when the ensemble quits its voice recitation and walks to a table filled with various glasses and then in deep concentration plays a crystalclear concert, or when Oldenburg's sweet tale about a coconut that always is beaten turns into an unpleasant torture scene. Never will that image be forgotten where she is forced to dance by the yelling Per Flink Basse. He stuffs red candy into her mouth while she, out of breath attempts to continue her story - her eyes filled with pleading fear. Right before she had offered someone in the audience some candy. I wonder how they taste in the mouth of the obeservers, while the red in Oldenburg's mouth has been tranformed into blood running down the summer dress.