How many ways can a person fall? From paradise, youth, a relationship… How can you practise the grief for a sorrow that is still to come? How much fiction do we need to become truly authentic? And how much sentimentality to really be able to empathise? Hof van Eede is training itself in empathy. The starting point is a chance tragedy. LOD composer Thomas Smetryns bought a photo of a young female dancer online. Shortly afterwards he found a whole book of photos in his letterbox; a life in the form of a puzzle.
A villa with flowers in Provence. [‘Bienvenue dans le paradis’]. An older man with a younger woman and small son amongst the flowers. [Notes of harp music from the open window]. Postcards from a man in a sanatorium to a woman, who remains alone with her young son. [Dark piano sounds, impending disaster]. The son on a bicycle. Police photos, quickly stuck in: a boy’s bike and a moped, a boy’s jacket caught in the mudguard. And the announcement of a death: the son has died. Sixteen years old. [A beat on the kettledrum, prolonged, high, sorrowful note on the violin].
Together with Thomas Smetryns and Ensemble Besides, Hof van Eede, the young theatre collective led by the sisters Ans and Louise Van den Eede and Wannes Gyselinck, is engaging in a series of exercises in empathy, on the precarious tightrope between the ordinarily tragic and the unintentionally comical, between the documentary and the fictional. Not opera, no singing characters, but music as a strategy for directing emotions, or for getting in their way. After all, how much soundtrack can real life endure?
Thanks to and in collaboration with LOD, Hof Van Eede have taken a truly fine step in the development of their language. Smetryns’ delicate composition compels them into a disarming tenderness they had not previously tapped. The music gives their language a deeper glow. Van den Eede is stronger than ever on stage, precisely due to this greater fragility, flanked by the burly Van der Ven, who pumps more energy into the acting with each word he speaks. An energy that Van den Eede then throws back with a smartly comical reply or a look full of bewilderment. What interaction!- FOCUS KNACK