theatre/ensemble: Théâtre National, Brussels
seen on 20th June in Wiesbaden during the New Plays From Europe Festival
plot: “We can be heroes. Just for one day”. This line from a David Bowie song was part of the inspiration for Vincent Hennebicq’s first play. It tells the story of an old man near the end of his life. Realizing how much he has missed and what a relief it would be to tear off the straightjacket of laziness and convention, he changes his costume and becomes Popi Jones: a rock star. Finally, he dares to say what he has been silent about all his life. He remembers the love of his life and braves his neglected son’s anger. Hennebicq turns his play into a veritable rock concert. Jean Pierre Baudson plays Popi Jones as if the role had been tailor-made for him, the rest of the company become “Les Popettes”. Only Raven Ruëll, who plays Popi’s son and has written his own lines, stays on the sidelines and doesn’t enter the rockstar fantasy.
verdict: It started well as I realised that I could undertstand much more of the Belgian French than I did the evening before at the play from Paris. The evening is more of a sad and associative musical revue than a wordy play - might seem a bit shallow for some but I liked it as the band was fantastic. The story of Popi Jones gets told in songs, unconnected scenes and hints - you have to pay attention otherwise the rock concert aspect overwhelms the intention a bit (or is it the intention?).
Maybe not a revelation but a play which potentially could be recreated by another theatre one day.