*The End of Eddy,* 11/14/19
I saw *The End of Eddy* at BAM on 11/14/19. It's a new play by Pamela Carter, an adaptation of the memoir by the French author Édouard Louis. Louis has written three volumes of memoirs - - this one covered the ages ten to fifteen, and was published when was twenty-two. You might wonder what such a young man has to say that's worth hearing but wow, it was a knockout. I just bought the book for my Kindle and can't wait to start writing it.
Louis grew up in a resolutely working class small town in rural France. He was bullied daily for being gay and effeminate and had a complicated sexual history. It might make you uneasy hearing about the sexual experiences of a twelve-year-old, but the story was told with such frankness, it wasn't disturbing. Of course it helped that the other people involved were around the same age. He eventually found his way out of that soul-crushing small town and went to university in Amiens, 40 minutes away. He said he wasn't just the first person in his family to go to university, he was the first person in his TOWN.
This was one of the best things I've ever seen at BAM, which makes it one of the best things I've seen in my life! It was the perfect example of making the most out of limited means: the play was 90 minutes long and had two actors and four video screens. It was in a small theater with more or less a bare stage and minimal lighting, used very thoughtfully. There was almost no music, but probably a more elaborate sound design than was readily apparent. The spare, pared-down quality of the production put the story and the writing center stage, it had a gut-punching impact.
Eddy was played by two adult actors, Oseloka Obi and James Russell-Morley. They were both extraordinary, they're English actors and spoke with tough, working-class English accents. Maybe more Northern England than London Cockney, but I don't have such a keen ear for this kind of thing.
I don't know if it was the adapter or director Stewart Laing who came up with this idea, but the two actors taking turns playing Eddy onstage were often playing scenes with other characters in the story, played by themselves on the video screens. So for example, Obi as Eddy had a scene with his parents, in which Obi played Eddy's mother on the screen to his left and Russell-Morley played Eddy's father on the screen on his right. The actors wore identical striped T-shirts, both onstage and on video.
The play was so strong, I hope it gets published and performed by regional theaters. Selfishly, I would love the chance to see it again.