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Unlike the family, the play functions
Bastard is a trilingual Scandinavian collaboration between Reykjavík City Theatre, Malmö City Theatre, Vesterport, and Theatre FÅR302.
Waage Sande plays a despicable father who summons his ‘bastards’, as he refers to his children, under the false pretence that he is dying, but he is in fact getting married. As the four children reunite with their father, they are faced with unresolved emotions, frustration and dark family secrets. The story itself was engaging: never too complicated to follow though always interesting with a few unexpected twists. Director Gísli Örn Garðarsson and writer Richard LaGravenese admit to being inspired by Russian literature and Icelandic sagas and there were certainly strong characters, foul language and seductive women, all mixed with a fair amount of violence.
Although the casting was good in its entirety, extra credit must be given to Håkan Paaske and Fredrik Gunnarson, who not only played their roles convincingly, but also provided excellent comic relief in an otherwise somewhat heavy family drama. It was quite strange to see the actors speaking to each other in three different languages, but somehow it suited the theme of people meeting with little in common except for their background, much like the Scandinavian nations.
The stage was rectangular and the audience were seated all around it. The stage itself was rather small, but Börkur Jónsson’s clever design made use of the entire space. As the story unfolded, it was interesting to see how the actors used the stage. The director, a former gymnast himself, is known for using acrobatics in his productions and although ‘Bastard’ was not acrobatic at its core, the actors were made to work hard: there was running, climbing, dangling and even diving involved.
The only downside was the music, or perhaps lack thereof, which failed to leave an impression. However, all in all, the play was entertaining and ‘Bastard’ proved that the theatre is still very much a relevant media that can create magic when the right people work together.
The Danish, Swedish and Icelandic play ‘Bastard’ was performed from September 7-23 in Fælledparken. There were Danish supertitles and English subtitles were available via smartphone applications.