Book Burning – Dublin Theatre Festival Review

Book Burning 1

Book Burning | Project Arts Centre (Space Upstairs) | Oct 8 – 11

At the centre of the stage stands a trunk. It is a large imposing object in the middle of an otherwise empty stage. As the light slowly fades in the auditorium, a man emerges from behind the trunk. He is a man but he is also a cat and he has a story to tell.

This tale is an unusual mix of wild fantasy and harsh reality. It tells the tale of Pieter De Buysser who meets Sebastian at an Occupy demonstration. They start talking and go for coffee together and Pieter discovers that Sebastian is involved with Wikileaks and is engaged in letting the world know the truth. As he says himself, he has no secrets! There is another side to this story though, which has a touch of fairytale to it. Sebastian is followed everywhere by a cloud of moths. The reason for this becomes clear as Sebastian reveals he emits a light from his chest which is attracting the insects. This light continues to grow as he reveals further truths to the world at large.

This is a one man monologue delivered by Pieter De Buysser, who tells this bizarre story in a friendly and off handed manner, with a variety of sound affects and other instruments to break the flow. He also reveals the trunk is not quite the solid piece of furniture it appears to be, but is actually a complex piece of carpentry, containing all manner of folding and pull out panels and arms. He uses the trunk to create a landscape to illustrate the tale.

While there are many moments where this piece comes to life, there are many more where it feels leaden. The combination of fables and bitter truth do not sit easily together and you are left with a piece that is neither one thing nor the other. De Buysser comes across as a warm and engaging character and the trunk is a fascinating prop to explore, it’s a pity the writing does not live up to the rest of the production.

Book Burning | Project Arts Centre (Space Upstairs) | Oct 8 – 11

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