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Review: As Water Reflects The Face

‘As Water Reflects the Face’ at The Dancehouse portrays the social issues young people face in Transylvania. The performance moves the audience with its authenticity, writes Camilla Lindner

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The light expires and the six actors come on stage. They sit on chairs in grey clothes. On the left, the news is screened. The headline: The 651st child in Romania has been born. The fictional news ends with the sentence ‘Enjoy yourself among us. Welcome’. Irony… Probably.

The Osonó Theatre presented its experimental theatrical performance ‘As Water Reflects the Face’. The theatre is an independent theatre company from Saint George, Transylvania (Romania), and is based on young peoples experiences and issues in Transylvania. The idea in establishing a theatre popped up four years ago in a youth camp. Today students of drama from the actor classes of two art schools are involved. The group is on tour currently and has visited eight different countries. England is one of them.

From various discussions after the show, the majority of the audience appears to be originally from Romania. During the play, you can hear sobs and see wet eyes throughout the crowd. Although I am not Romanian and not too familiar with the current situation, the play is touching as young people tell their own stories through theatrical performance, underlined by music. The audience jumps from one scene to another. The screen still shows the news, which report among others the divorce and infant mortality of Romania and the abortion rate. The numbers are frightening: Eight in ten adolescents want to leave the country.

The sadness is also expressed in the minimalism and abstraction of the requisite. Thus a concrete block is used as a baby, which is taken care of affectionately by ‘its’ mother. If the child cries ‘Mum’, it receives some cue balls–but the mother does not show up.

Confessions such as “I am not sure if I want to be born” and “I was raped when I was 13” emphasise the sadness and injustice of the play, of the adolescents, and the current situation in Transylvania. Still, the children do have dreams, such as meeting Lady Gaga one day, their parents stopping the arguing, or being responsible for reducing global warming. These dreams are again screened and virtually engulf the small stage.

The play ends with repetition of a boy crying for his mother, but alas, there is no reply. Instead, the actors place signs of paperboard on the chairs: ‘Silence’ is written on them in different languages. Funeral music rings on and leaves the audience sitting in their chairs, uncomfortable. The actors do not come on stage again. And now? Should you clap? Or not? Why do they not come on stage again? The audience stays some more minutes before leaving the hall slowly, in thought.