Pardon / In Cuffs

The ever-prevalent story of the individual being caught up in, or fighting against, the machine of society – not always nobly – is told with skill and beauty by the three actors in Valentijn Dhaenen’s conceived play. Based on the documentaries of Raymond Depardon, we witness the action evolve around a duty prosecutor seeing a number of people who have come afoul of the law.

This piece is a tour de force of physical theatrical devices.

The level of differentiation between the many characters played by the whole cast was stunning. None of the actors veered into melodrama; everyone was completely engaged with their fellow players and the connectedness and generosity of each of the three was fantastic to behold.

Valentijn Dhaenens was particularly strong when changing between roles: his accents were perfect, and when in engaged in various surreal forms he was utterly entrancing.

Korneel Hamers has an intriguing look about him which could have acted to make his job harder; however, this intrigue simply added to his characterisation and we were totally taken along with his skill, including the comedic additions (a welcome break from the often hard edged or tragic characters).

Clara van den Broek gives one of the most consistently strong performances I’ve ever seen - and over an immensely diverse selection of roles. From the tired and cynical official to the fiery sexual prostitute, her sheer range truly elevates the production.

The revolving stage is put to excellent use, with a minimalist set and stark lighting to summon the unforgiving atmosphere of a legal processing office. The revolving stage evokes the feeling of an ongoing revolving door, through which people always enter, but don’t always leave.

This piece is a tour de force of physical theatrical devices – absolutely not overdone but perfectly slotted into place in order to add to the storytelling. If anything, some more of this animation could have been used earlier on in the play, as it felt that it needed to warm up before it could really get going. Once underway, however, it became an utter powerhouse of artistic integrity and beauty, with a strong core message to be considered.

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The Blurb

Much is at stake for those who've just been caught in the act: either a judgement will be passed or they'll have a lucky escape. From the creators of BigMouth and SmallWar, and inspired by the documentaries of award-winning Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon, Pardon / In Cuffs unravels the complex relationship between culprit and judge. Through a series of tense exchanges on one side sits a criminal: fighting, lying, begging. On the other side: a public prosecutor in their nightly routine, representing society, reaching verdicts. A story of little people clashing with massive structures.

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