Falk Richter’s Trust was first performed in Germany in 2009, shortly after the financial crisis swooped over much of the Western world. As Jude Christian, Pia Laborde Noguez and Zephrun Taitte take to the stage of the Gate Theatre to reinvent Richter’s pessimistic critique of capitalism and human relationships, one can’t help but notice how much and simultaneously little has changed in what has almost been a decade.
Director (and performer) Jude Christian has created an interesting mosaic show, with scenes jumping from the relatively naturalistic to various levels of absurd. The play opens with one of Richter’s lengthy treatises on the subject of modern-day capitalism and historical cycles. Jude Christian, delivering the dense text in a fast yet compelling way (there is just something soothing about her voice), wonders aloud whether we are on the verge of another collapse of ‘the system’, and introduces us to some of the characters we never get to meet, but whose stories seem to be interwoven throughout the lives of the two protagonists and the rest of the play.
Laborde Noguez and Taitte portray a couple that has been together for 14 years – or was it 3 weeks? – but have lost their connection along the way. The scenes between the two of them are the least interesting of the night, perhaps because they seem somewhat dull and staged, compared to the rest. For the other scenes are often humorous, challenging or provocative, and for the most part, well-executed.
A highlight is Laborde Noguez’s monologue addressed to her wealthy partner, performed behind her make-up table, begging him to trust her, despite her confessions of increasingly ridiculous actions that have lead to squandering his fortune and multi-faceted adultery.
Throughout the 100-minute long show, the originally empty stage becomes increasingly cluttered with props and backdrops, as they are used for yet another intermezzo of political commentary, bits of live music, or another episode in the unhappy couple’s life. Christian acts as an orchestrator setting the stage for almost every scene, and the props themselves seem to comment on the piece, by displaying the names of scenes or other bits of script in big black letters.
The overly long yoga scene at the very end is disappointing, as there was potential for an ending that might have made more of an impact. Instead, the audience shift in their seats as the voiced-over text keeps repeating itself – which might explain the hesitant, lukewarm applause.
The piece deserves more than that, however, as overall it is stimulating, surprising and occasionally very funny. You’ll never know what’s going to happen next, whether it’s a twisted flight attendant demonstration or a crash course in Chinese. The lighting and projection mapping add a lot to the production, especially in combination with the set design. Richter’s text will make you work and think, and Christian’s version of this play is definitely one to remember.
Trust runs at the Gate Theatre until 17th March. Tickets here.
Written by Merel van ‘t Hooft.