Who knows how many levels of meaning there are to this completely beguiling production. Initially, you might think nothing more of Bertrand’s plan to get revenge. High atop a ladder, he requests to hold Nasi’s plate, alternating grins and serious stares to the crowd. Bertrand sends it crashing to the ground. His co-performer attacks him with a hammer.
That is a shocking shift from benign clowning routines that see two men trying to best each other. But, as suggested by sly use of Harry Connick Jr’s song Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, there are differences as slight as saying “potato” or “patattah”; the distance between both individuals is discreetly cultural.
As their playful acts burn with violence, we are inevitably caught up in the struggle. Bertrand, bemoaning his difficult co-worker (whom he goads in equal measure), asks an audience member out on a culture date to Paris. As he skates self-possessed across the stage to elegantly swelling strings of baroque music, he slates Nasi as a primitive who doesn’t ‘get culture’. The cruelty cuts to the bone.
There, living along the wreckage, Nasi broods understandably with rage, even giving death threats. This is a portrayal of radicalisation, for sure, but without sensational flourishes; anger, instead, is grown out of global inequality. We leave him in the dark, spinning to the Beach Boys. “God only knows what I’d be without you”? He’d be better off.
Until August 13th, with additional dates August 21st-22nd. Book tickets here.