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Based on the award-winning novel The Notebook (1986), by Hungarian writer Ágota Kristóf, Forced Entertainment’s performance told the story of twin brothers evacuated to the Hungarian countryside during World War II to stay at their impoverished grandmother’s farm. The unnamed narrators are social outsiders, surviving in and understanding the world by a harsh private code. Though strange and dysfunctional, the brothers are slowly revealed as struggling moralists, trying to live by consistent principles in a Central Europe crumbling into vice, cruelty and opportunism.
Directed by Tim Etchells, The Notebook was an unraveling knot of naïve logic that wove dark and subversive humor from wartime hardships. Forced Entertainment performers Richard Lowdon and Robin Arthur stood side by side to tell their story in an unsettling and uncanny double act – a marathon narration of two people trapped in one voice and one shared perspective. Kristof’s narrational language – bold, crisp and reduced – provided the basis for a compelling performance.
The Notebook is a Forced Entertainment production. Co-produced by PACT Zollverein (Essen); LIFT and 14–18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions. A House on Fire co-commission with HAU Hebbel Am Ufer (Berlin), Kaaitheater (Brussels), Teatro Maria Matos (Lisbon), LIFT and Malta Festival Poznan with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. Development work generously supported by Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts (LICA). Based on Le grand cahier by Ágota Kristóf original © Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1986. Photo courtesy of Tim Etchells