Vaba Lava, Tallinn, Estonia
"I also would prefer a boy with good marks and all that although it would break my heart to give mine away just like an old pair of shoes"
Five overweight children alone in a weight loss sanatorium high up in the mountains, sent away by their parents. Only when they finally lose weight, and by that become acceptable again, they may be allowed to come back home. This is the situation, in which an eleven year old newcomer Leo finds himself. Until Leo regains shape, he has to give away his room at home to his English cousin Seymour, who is much thinner and probably also better at school. The children's hopes strive to the arrival of the mysterious medical supervisor Dr. Baerfuss, who actually never appears. Only strict following of the treatment instructions, given in the doctor's name, seem to be the key to the desired weight loss and by that the ticket home.
During Anne Lepper's play, it is not only the audience, that becomes more and more doubtful, but also the sanatorium inhabitants themselves – no one of them is actually loosing weight, the parents slowly stop calling and sending chocolate cakes and Dr. Baerfuss never shows up – maybe it was not even him to provide the rules, maybe the kids themselves invented them, to still have something to hope for. The abandoned place in the mountains less and less seems a short-term health camp for the children, but reveals itself as a terminal destination for those, who are not effective, not fit, not good enough.
Seymour is a bizarre and also tragicomic parable on a society, steeped in the idea of economical progress and optimization. No place for love or mistakes – neither for kids, nor for their parents. Here the overweight children are regarded as a hopeless case, which cost too much effort and still can not be fixed, which has to be sorted out and replaced. The play is working on the question of hope and the fear not to be good enough. Those fat children, with whom we, on the first sight, have nothing in common are the embodiment of our anxiety to fail and to be rejected. They evoke sympathy. In their clumsy naivety and hope they remind us of ourselves.
Anne Lepper's characters torture themselves, although deep down inside they must guess, that their efforts will never lead to the promised goal, that they will never be invited home again. They make life hell for each other. With iron-persistence they repeat the drill of Dr. Baerfuss like mantras, monitoring and admonishing one another, they push each other down, in fear to be sorted out themselves, not willing to accept that each of them is as hopeless as their counterpart. They feel that it is impossible for them to lose the weight, and even if they succeed, no one would be interested.
Only one time Dr. Baerfuss is seen by the children – and still he is not coming for them, but to escape from the police skiing downhill into nowhere, leaving the kids to their fate, and moreover - with a terrifying certainty. And when the parents finally call, making the old and nearly forgotten telephone ring, then it is only to say, that the children should stay where they are – without being angry, of course.
starring: Lauri Kaldoja, Martin Kõiv, Roland Laos, Liisa Pulk, Kristo Viiding, Maris Liloson, Siim Selis
director: Andreas Merz Raykov
stage and costume design: Jelena Nagorni