By Annika Tudeer, Hufvudstadsbladet, Helsinki 28.09.2000
Tropical heat in a white fossil cave-scenography. Fragments of colonialism, revolutions, repression. Dissolution of the white man's power in postrevolutionary time in one conglomerate of poetry, violence, eroticism tightly strung beneath the surface. The Norwegian performance group Verdensteatret, founded in 1986, played the Regla for a small audience at the Savoy. In Verdensteatret artists from various disciplines participate and create visual and powerful performances. At first it feels a bit like the eighties and Peter Greenaway, with beautiful opera music, minimalism, white and dreamlike, a redhead in a clinging dress, African rythms. But suddenly the rythms of the performance take their hold and the story's fragments of timeless cruelty, indifference, conquest and power start to eat their way in with the salsa rythms. The constellation consists of older man, woman and younger man in an unidentified tropical landscape, in some Other Place. This is a tale of power, of age and generations. Some isolated acts feel like clichees, performed with great enthusiasm, such as burning newspapers, lighting candles, but the totality eats into your mind. The remnants of the white empire still reverberate, they move in grey powersuits through the rooms, repress a woman, force her to dance while bleeding from the mouth, write sentimental but beautiful love poems at the point when everything is approaching its dissolution. Verdensteatret challenges the audience to put together the fragments for themselves and to see what they tell. In a revolutionary monologue the audience is turned into the Other. We are the slaves, the group of forty waiting for our moment. Video of burial sites, of rooms projected onto the background, onto the furniture placed on the scene, creating a landscape that associates the bottom of the ocean. Tapes of sounds from out of doors and music leads one from one atmosphere to another. The most prominent feeling lies in the rythm, in the speed and in the subtle techniqes of acting that create the atmosphere. Verdensteatret state that they on stage represent themselves, but it isn't quite as simple as that. To be oneself on stage and to constantly keep up the go-ahead intention of the energy requires both experience and technique. Regla touches one, it invades the senses. The performance sweeps one away and the audience is thrown amidst the distancing acts, such as the voice becoming hoarser stating that it is losing its voice. Political, for sure. But also with an intelligent subtext that comments upon the tale of the weary European colonialist-weapons dealer-adventurer, whose role is over, while the young arrogant man's development is cut short. The black woman with the white complexion represents the hope, a new dawn, the other continents, that are a significant part of the Other in the history of oppression. Hopefully Verdensteatret will return before another ten years are gone. The last time they visited Helsingfors was in 1990, with their esthethic and cruel performance Wednesday 13th of October. Verdensteatret are specialists at placing latent cruelty side by side with extraordinary beauty.