Review: Unsung

SKaGeN/KVS, Big in Belgium, Richard Jordan Productions, TRP, Summerhall
Summerhall – until August 26th
4 Stars (4 / 5)

The performance begins with an unnamed politician (Valentijn Dhaenens) making a speech, filled with generic exposition, metaphors and promises that characterise the speeches of many politicians in the world today. The audience is in on the joke, laughing at placed quotes and references. This politician seems pretentious, until he suddenly breaks away and says, “it’s not working, is it?” He recognises that the speech does not reflect who he is, and with this desire to be honest, the audience understands that this is a man who grapples with his private and public self. Then he sends a video message of tenderness and adoration, exposing himself deeply, only to then reveal that he is talking to his lover, while his wife and two children are at home.

Such is the way that writer Vincent Stuer and dramaturg Kristin Rogghe have so expertly crafted the political world of manipulation, ambition and competition through the personification of a singular figure; a white, heterosexual, middle-class male no less. Throughout the hour, the audience is teased, lured and witness to the man’s facade and what lies beneath. Dhaenens as a politician has incredible charisma that sucks the audience in, making it hard to decide whether one should endorse or hate him. Regardless, he is someone you just cannot peel your eyes from.