Ans and Jeroen are waiting for us in the lecture theatre. They have been waiting to tell us about Jacques the fatalist and his Master by Denis Diderot. A book that they love – “it has everything!” Ans exclaims. Well, not everything. Everything and nothing.
Where the World is Going is part of the Big in Belgium programme hosted by Summerhall and the Traverse through which half a dozen productions successful in the Flemish part of Belgium are now showcased at the Fringe.
There’s a different theatrical discipline at work in these productions. The post-dramatic is whole-heartedly embraced. For this reason Where the World is Going”¦ is an exciting space to walk into. The lack of pretence is liberating, we are not expected to suspend our disbelief, we are not expected to do anything, just to listen and be present.
The performers are wonderfully present too. They search the faces of the audience for guidance and approval, actively seeking a relationship with us. There is the gentle hint of clown in their ‘performances’. They want to please us but they are flawed, and unprepared. The cracks in their relationship emerging with such a light comedic touch that it can’t help but draw a smile.
Their starting point is Diderot’s post-modern text. Defined by its digressions, it has three possible endings and no dominant narrative thread. It wanders, meanders, and then returns only to wander off again. Just like the show.
For much of it, our hosts enthuse about the book. Jeroen describes it as ‘a language party’ which Ans decodes for us as ‘a literary feast’. Although the former is not wrong it is not correct because it doesn’t sound clever enough.
The piece consistently pokes fun at over-complex, philosophical thought. The circular motion of a paradox is exposed as largely meaningless and useless except to the ego of the apparently ‘intelligent’ person that uttered it.
If the performers hadn’t come back for a bow at the end, it might have been an intervention, a philosophical stunt, interrupting what Timothy Leary would call ‘our set’ – splintering, for an hour, the way we understand the world. But as it is the show feels a bit like a point made and re-iterated ad nauseum. And they do acknowledge this – it is intentional. But that doesn’t help it feeling like an amusing -and at times challenging joke. But a joke all the same.