Eurohouse – The Ovalhouse

Created and performed by Bertrand Lesca & Nasi Voutsas
Reviewer: Deborah Parry

It is a sad but inevitable fact that no system is perfect – there will always be winners and losers. In all of the debates and discussions that lead up to last year’s EU referendum, much focus was given to criticism and praise of the European Union in relation to ‘us’ but less thought to the more vulnerable cogs in its very large wheel – none more so than the crippling effects of the financial crisis on Greece.

An hour isn’t long enough to examine the politics of the EU in any depth, and Eurohouse doesn’t attempt to. What the play does do, rather well, is to hone in on the themes of exploitation, power, corruption and illustrates how transactions that are woefully unbalanced can amount to bullying – even if the intention is not to be overtly cruel but merely to keep the wheel in motion.

The play starts with a vision, of unity; the performers address us directly and ask us to link hands. They establish a rapport with us but very quickly we start to realise that a polite request is amusing when we feel empowered and want to comply but, when the attention is diverted back to the performers themselves, we see that making demands on those who have limited or no choice is actually highly exploitative. This is done through simple but effective means – actor Bertrand Lesca takes control and plays the same track over and over again; even when he asks fellow performer Nasi Voutsas which song he’d like to hear, the same music blasts back. A power balance is established and it’s clear that things are not going to swing in Voutas’s favour. Sweets are given to him, consumed, and then Lesca demands he returns them – forcing Voutas to purge them from his body. Then a disturbing moment when, even after the shirt has literally been taken from Voutas’s back, Lesca continues to attempt to strip him bare.

The piece has been done with a minimal budget, there is no set, costumes are non-descript – anything more would be unnecessary. We are focused on the actors throughout and on the subject matter at hand, there are no distractions.

The residual effects of the UK leaving the EU are, obviously, still yet to be seen – we don’t know what the future holds for us or whether by removing our voice, further ‘failings’ such as those depicted within this play will follow. Regardless, Eurohouse reminds us that ideals are good, in theory, but with great power comes great responsibility and sometimes such power corrupts, even when we mean well.

Runs until 29 April 2017 | Image: Jack Offord

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