The bare, white surface on which Do not look back with regret opens, looks like a moonscape, or a prairie. A young woman (Klára Alexová) is standing in the room, making a deserted impression. The light intensifies for a moment, as if a photo was being taken with a flash, and darkness follows. Then: the same room. The same woman. But her position on the playing field has changed, we don’t know how much time has passed.
The alienating and oppressive atmosphere that theater maker Davy Pieters creates is a constant in her work. In her often wordless performances, she creates surreal universes in which man is estranged from himself and from his environment; a plaything of uncontrollable external forces.
Pieters’ new, wordless performance also immediately evokes an atmosphere of isolation and indefinable sadness; an atmosphere that was also characteristic of the corona crisis with its indefinability of time and sense of confinement.
When ashes begin to whirl down, the performance takes on an even more explicit post-apocalyptic edge. How do you keep going when you can’t see any perspective anymore?
The strong on Do not look back with regret is that Pieters makes room for comfort more than in her previous work. When the floor is almost completely covered by ash, a second, somewhat older woman (Marlies Heuer) appears on the scene: while Alexová is in the center bent over, Heuer very carefully traces a path through the dust with her foot. Alexová doesn’t seem to notice at first. Is Heuer her mother? Does she mourn her?
Pieters offers no clarity in what follows, but plays with different possibilities all the time. The relationship between women is constantly changing: where you initially think of a mother-daughter relationship, it can also be about solidarity between generations: whenever one woman becomes mentally or physically exhausted, the other offers support. By sometimes allowing Heuer to be alone on stage, Pieters also ensures that the two characters become equal to each other.
The sensitive play of the two actors, the dynamic lighting design by Varja Klosse, the predominantly rhythmic and then suddenly melodic soundscape by Jimi Zoet: everything fits together perfectly. Later in the performance, when Alexová, in a moment of silence, chants a simultaneously powerful and sad song for the other woman, who seems to have come to the end of her life, she effortlessly breaks your heart.