The Abstractness and Beauty of Lament

The Theatre of Cruelty performed its new “naked” play Lament on the scene of Hausmania cultural centre in Oslo. Following the traditions of Jerzy Grotowski’s “poor theatre” and the physical theatre of Antonin Artaud, the director of the Theatre of Cruelty Lars Øyno made arguably the most honest and experimental piece in the whole 25 years of the theatre’s existence.

To start with, the play is so abstract, it can mean almost anything. At the same time it has the starting point: we know that two women on the stage in simple robes, played by Sara Fellmann and Hanne Dieserud, are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Maria Magdalena. They are mourning over the death of the Saviour. We can hear them pronouncing “Christ” from time to time. The two women go through all the stages of despair and pain. They cry, they weep, they moan, wail, squawk and groan. They are making convulsive movements as though they are on the verge of insanity.

In the beginning it seems, there is no plot, no sequence of actions. Just an improvisation. But after half an hour the spectator clearly hears the melody of the play. It has certain logic, it definitely makes sense. Only the meaning is individual for each particular person. The interpretation is the task for the viewer. In the Theatre of Cruelty the audience is an active participant of the action. The brain is working constantly: What does this cry mean? What is the reason for this movement? What are they trying to say by these sounds and actions? The subconscious is working.

The audience is in permanent thinking process during Lament, but it is not involved in the performance. We are looking at these two women but we can not “touch” them. They are telling the story, but their addressees are not us. Probably, they are speaking to God or, maybe, to each other.


Lament invokes the inner, hidden feelings of every human being, makes people sympathize and care. One of the main values of being human is the ability to appear compassionate and empathic. We watch the women’s mourn and we recognize ourselves in their sorrow and sadness. This play is about basic laws of human existence. It is about life and, despite the gloominess and cruelty, Lament is celebrating life.


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