The End of Eddy at the Unicorn Theatre
As an adaptation of the book En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, The End of Eddy endeavours to be honest. The audience is addressed directly, frankly and as the character’s equals throughout by the two very talented cast members, Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills, who play all the characters at different points, including Eddy himself. The deviations from the source text are highlighted, and the practicalities behind the changes are fully explained. This fits in wonderfully with the transparency of the narrative; no detail in the plot seems to be spared either, and the effect is often visceral, terrible and beautiful.
The story centres around the early life of Eddy Bellegueule and his time growing up gay in an incredibly poor and remote French village. Overall, the production is scaled back but still transportive. Acting is done both live, and played as recordings on television screens, which reflects elements of the story and allows for the actors to portray multiple people at the same time. The incorporation of the screens is masterfully done. The piece tears down the fourth wall in more ways than one, and it is completely immersive. Even though they are just faces on a screen, it feels at times as if they are talking straight to us. In a way, that makes for three Eddys: Austin, Mills and the audience.
With that being said, an intermission would have been much appreciated, and sometimes the explanations could have been scaled back a bit. There’s a notable point towards the end of the play where the performers repeat the fact that the scene we’re about to watch, and subsequently have watched, is a fabrication. Unfortunately, this makes the poignant invented scene ring as a bit hollow. However, the cast are wonderful. Austin transforms himself from the perfect brute to the bitter mother with aplomb, meanwhile Mills conveys a charm and an innocence that makes him ideal as a narrator and as the young version of Eddy. The combined effect is an excellent, accessible play that will probably do a bit of a number on you.
Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
The End of Eddy is at the Unicorn Theatre from 13th September until 6th October 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The End of Eddy here: