Lockdown review: The Drunks

Streaming on the FITS Online platform last night, this 2018 production of Reszegek/The Drunks by Ivan Viripajev proves to be challenging and essential viewing.

Chosen as part of the group #EuropeanTheatreClub screenings on Twitter, Radu Afrim directs The Drunks for the Mures National Theatre in Romania.

We are at a stag do, and everyone gets drunk, in an increasingly surreal and honest depiction of the intracies of the human experience. With the chanteuse character being the only sober person on-stage, she represents both audience gaze and chorus narration.

In a very physical piece, the participants teeter on that bridge between the wine-stained confessional and beer-fuelled aggression. There is nudity, the flush of “true love”, explosions of physical and sexual violence which shock but are quickly forgotten.

Screengrabs from The Drunks

The lighting design picks out moments in the evening and suffuse the action with a cold glow. The atmosphere is conspiratorial, almost, as characters catch each other’s gaze, hungrily kiss, revere each other’s bodies and deal with the pain and boredom of their own realities.

I am still exploring the aesthetic of European (that is to say, mainland Europe) theatre, which can look anarchic and messy on first glance. It is a very refreshing style which captures the absurd in the everyday.

With little filter and a much edgier design and style of performance than we are used to in traditional British programming, The Drunks (over three hours and subtitled) more than holds its own and is a fascinating addition to the streamed theatre space.

The Drunks was streamed for free at 6pm on the 11 October 2020.

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