Festival Theatre

La Reprise

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Neil Cooper

Four stars

Like Making of a Murderer or a Vice true crime documentary, Milo Rau’s explosive new creation looks you in the eye before putting the boot in. Taking the real life murder of a man outside a gay club in Liege as their starting point, European enfant terrible Rau and his International Institute of Political Murder company reconstruct events in forensic close up without ever trying to solve the crime. First up, however, we meet the six actors at an audition, with three of them testing in turn for the other three, filmed live as they’re asked how far they’ll go to keep things real.

Such a meta-narrative approach has been around even before Lindsay Anderson thumped Malcolm McDowell with a script at the end of Anderson’s 1970s state of the nation sprawl, O Lucky Man! Rau’s production is even more self-aware, styling his creation as Histoire(s) du Theatre (1). The mix of professional and non-professional actors never lose sight of their own artifice. Their straight to camera digressions come in-between scenes from an existential noir that suggests the car-load of boys about town are killing for kicks and want of something better to do than joy-riding with strangers. While this points to economic disenfranchisement for young people in humdrum towns, it never moralises.

Performed in French and Flemish as part of Edinburgh International Festival’s You Are Here strand, and told in chapters, Rau’s conception makes for a surprisingly funny if increasingly intense ride. Devised with the performers, scenes relayed onscreen in Maxime Jennes and Dimitri Petrovic’s video work are replicated in the flesh. The homicide itself is shown unadorned in painstakingly mundane detail. While one initially shudders when a real car is wheeled onstage, when things take an ugly turn, it feels like your nose is pressed up against the tightly wound window, almost complicit in the thrill of it all. As an introduction to Rau’s wilfully provocative line of inquiry, La Reprise is quite a gauntlet being thrown down.