Ontroerend Goed, Once and For All We're Going to Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen

Review in Issue 21-1 | Spring 2009

Ontroerend Goed established themselves as a company to watch with The Smile Off Your Face, which took its audience individually on a disorienting journey. Now they return with a piece which exploits a conventional theatre space to even greater white-knuckle effect.

Amassing onstage thirteen appealing young whippersnappers who, over the course of an hour, play, fight, dance, make out, get messy, and speak with (apparent) candour about their lives, Once and For All... is ostensibly about the elusive world — transparent yet hermetic, ubiquitous yet inaccessible — of the misunderstood teen. But the genius of this production is that actually adolescence is merely the perfect pretext for a piece that’s asking profound questions about performance itself, and the tension between artifice and authenticity that’s both a basic faultline in theatre and an ongoing murmur in every teenage heart.

From early on, when the piece reveals its opening images of all-out chaos to have been meticulously choreographed, Once and For All... is endlessly confounding; every time I feared it had lapsed into cliché, it turned out to be way ahead of me, right through to a final scene which seemed woefully misjudged as it began, but unfolded into one of the most rapturously lyrical things I’ve ever seen. The energy and the smart, angry zeal of this show may require certain occlusions — some kinds of teenager are nowhere on this map — but its ingenuity and intelligence are awesome, acutely indicating in passing how the most radical form of audience participation often is, exactly, to ‘shut up and listen’.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2008

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-1
p. 27