Where have the discrete charms of the bourgeoisie gone? In their enigmatically titled ensemble piece "Chuck Norris Doesn't Sleep, He Waits", Danai Anesiadou, Hans Bryssinck & Diederik Peeters take turns performing the cinematic chores of decadence, basing their taut, absurdist skits on filmic representation of ennui-stricken jet set life.
A string of loops held together by just as many loopholes, "Chuck Norris" stages our guileless protagonists in a web of archaic codes and Byzantine rituals - eventually plunging them into the abyss of old school Hammer horror. Highly recommended scenes of quotidian paralysis.
At the heart of Anesiadou, Bryssinck & Peeters' opus lies a concern with an almost antiquated concept - that of the "dream factory", an old moniker for the cinema that is reminiscent of the art form's roots in the twin realm of industry and magic. In "Chuck Norris doesn't sleep, he waits...", the stage is reimmersed in the primal darkness of oneiric desire, and the theatre remade as the refuge of man's wildest (and oldest) illusion - that of a world shaped and ruled by the wilful force of fantasy.
Abandon all disbelieving realism, ye who enter the world of "Chuck Norris": a dizzying whirlwind of scenographic gimmicks, all tongues firmly locked in cheeks, help to remind us (emphatically!) of the artificiality of the narrative construct we are about to enjoy - we literally enter through the theatre's backstage, after which we are treated to a bungling, 'improvised' introduction to the evening's theatrical proceedings: classic tricks of the postmodernist trade - yet all ironic suggestions of transparency nothwithstanding, the trio nonetheless succeed in gently luring the audience into their bizarre dreamworld. They do so by deploying a series of dramatic ruses of varying shades of subtlety in which the art of doubling and repetition take (quite literally) center stage, resulting in a delirious play of mirror effects - if there is one single experience which Anesiadou, Bryssinck and Peeters seem to want to evoke here, it is that of the 'jumble', of the 'tangle', of entanglement. These scenes, cinematic tropes all, vary from bourgeois screwball comedy (a lavishly decorated table, a manic waiter, desintegrating rules of decorum) and claustrophobic Kammerspiel (ménage à trois, huis clos) to Lynchian camp (sadomasochism as the supreme fulfilment of bourgeois desire, vampires and zombies) and pure, undiluted psychedelia (see the outrageous finale set to the tunes of Brian Wilson's deranged "Vega-tables"); tempos change inexplicably, narratives rhythms are disrupted by bizarre story-telling turns driven by mad association only, tones and modes move about, tempers and moods shift just as abruptly - there is just as little logic to Chuck Norris' vision as there is to any old dream. [Or, alternately, as to life itself - but that is a wholly other matter.] However banal and universal the human experience of dreaming may be, it remains seemingly impossible to convincingly translate the language of this experience to the straight-faced regime of the Real - and this, precisely, is what Anesiadou, Bryssinck & Peeters are committed to doing, with all the dangers and exhilarating feelings of liberation (for actors and audience alike) that attend to it: to restore the imaginative principle of the dream to its former glory as art's centrally powered engine.
Devised and performed by Danai Anesiadou, Hans Bryssinck & Diederik Peeters
Music & Sound Tape Tum (Lieven Dousselaere, Benjamin Dousselaere)
Advice Katja Dreyer, Agnès Quackels, Marc Vanrunxt
Realisation decor & costumes HAP, Carmel Peritore
Light design Karin Demedts
Production assistant Leentje Vandenbussche
Production Margarita Production for The Other vzw
Coproduction Beursschouwburg (B), Netwerk vzw (B), T:mefestival (B), La Ferme Du Buisson (F)
In partnership with Kunstencentrum Vooruit (B), nadine (B), Bains::Connective (B), Kaaitheater (B)
With the support of de Vlaamse overheid, het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewestless