By Chloe Perrett
The Merlyn theatre is bright with its house lights at 100% as the audience enters and straight away you can see four screens, a technician to stage right and the two actors sitting upstage in a bus shelter; they peer at the audience as we all quietly slink into the auditorium. All three creatives are dressed in a striped cotton shirt, cool track pants and white sneakers.
The End of Eddy is a best selling memoir by Edouard Louis - it describes growing up very flamboyant in a small rural village in Northern France. A remarkable book, telling tales from a 10 year old's perspective on homophobia, violence and racism, but it also brings great insight into why and how these kinds of prejudice flourish in a small town for years. It captures Eddy, the narrator , very young and realising he’s gay - tackling his savage upbringing and how he escapes his hometown on the wing of a theatre scholarship at age fifteen. One of the stand out factors of this play is the splitting narrative voices between the two male actors, James Russell-Morley and Oseloka Obi who both play Eddy, Mother, Father, Older brother, and the violent working class bullies that meet him in the corridor every day.
The use of four tv screens sliding up and down to project different characters ( all played by Russell-Morley and Obi) is pure genius - giving the audience multiple outlets to digest the story through digital media and storytelling. Louis doesn’t leave a beat or moment to spare about the ugliest sides of Xenophobia or Homophobia - which his parents and siblings spit out frequently and parade around, his father constantly harps “ Dirty Arabs!” , but he also understands the existential origins of where his father's anger births from. Their lack of French culture has shrunk over time along with their hopes and dreams. Eddy is frequently sent to the store to buy food or beg for credit on the theory that the shop owner would never say no to a child asking. The televisions in the house are always blaring, the women have a smoking problem and men are always excessively drinking; the the most nurturing of environments for a young gay man who is dealing with his sexuality”. Eddy even spends most of his time trying to delete any of his differences by calling another boy a “fagot” and dating girls just to prove that his not a homosexual man.
Russell-Morley and Obi develop extremely dynamic and heartwarming versions of Eddy from the age of 10 to 15. If there is any criticism it would be the repeated explanation of why they have chosen to tell certain Eddy stories and the process of adaption, however the performances are so stellar that you forgive this little dramaturgical glitch. This stage adaption for The International Melbourne Arts Festival is rather brilliant and should be showing to sold out performances, one would hope that it is playing to large groups of school students and adults.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.