By Martin Nystrøm, Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, 17.03.1999
"Relaxed and disorderd Sofokles"
The Norwegian group Verdensteatret for the first time in Sweden with "Philoktetes"
Sloppy big-beat music flowing through the speakers. A pair of tables on the stage is filled with liquer-bottles, flowers, corals and piles of lemons. A black electric bass is leaning on its stand. In this setting, four actors with head-sets are moving about, one of them wearing a bear-head and a "wolves"-scarf. Its the Norwegian performance -group "Verdensteatret" wich make makes its first visit to Sweden with "Philoktetes", a show which is as adorably disordered and coarse, laid-back experimental and lo-fi as a newly released Blur-record.
Verdensteatret, which has been active in the European performance-scene since the mid-eighties and is led by Lisbeth J.Bodd and Asle Nilsen this time takes its starting point in one of Sofokles later tragedies. An ice-cold illuminated drama which tells about the confrontation between two fellow countrymen during the Trojan war - Philoktetes (Martin Lundberg) the master archer who was taken out from the war and isolated on a desert island the reason being that the stench from his wounded foot wouldn´t demoralise the troops and Ulysses (Morten Cranner) being the general who took this betrayful measure. This version - written by the American author John Jesurun - also includes Neopyolemus ("The war-renewer " and son of Achilles) and a prompter who from time to time takes an active part in the dialogue.
Although the performers burst out in some musical and choreographic numbers and that long parts of the show are accompanied by rare ska-versions of the Bond-theme, the dynamics of the show lies in the text and the strictly build-up dialogues. Sofokles Greek island has been given similarities with the home for war-invalids in Kongsvinger which was financed by the Ethiopian Kaiser Haile Selassie as a gift to King Olav to thank him for the aid in the war against Mussolini. Its in the bar of this home, which is said to be placed on NATO-ground and therefor international territory that the meeting between the since 10 years exiled war-invalid, his former friend and Neoptolemus takes place. A constellation which is kept in motion by the text bringing out new pictures and meanings. Verdensteatrets "Philoktetes" is a story about suffering, betrayal and survival. Ameeting between "one body and two idiots" or between "one young, one old and one dead". An "intimate story of nothingness" that ends in a picture of a man who departs from the stage wearing an overcoat and a blue bear-head.
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