Versió teatral del guió de cinema escrit per Cassavetes per a Peter Falk i Ben Gazzara, poc abans de morir. L'eros i el tànatos, sota la mirada intensa de Jan Lauwers. Un projecte gestat al Burgtheater i remuntat a l'Humain trop humain de Montpeller. La vida, l'excés.
Further proof that we live in the age of hysteria in the guise of meaningful action comes from the Belgian director Jan Lauwers and his theatre troupe Needcompany. Begin the Beguine is the last work of John Cassavetes, written but never produced before the American filmmaker died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1989.
In this voyeuristic piece, two middle aged men, played by Spanish actors Gonzalo Cunill and Juan Navarro, isolate themselves in a beachside chalet and commit to have sex with prostitutes until they die. Envisaged for film a stage production of two hours without pause feels relentless. Lauwers compares Beguine to the 1973 film La grande bouffe, in which a group of men resolve to eat themselves to death in the French countryside.
The men are old enough to know better but certainly young enough to keep trying, an apparently modern quasi-therapeutic self-awareness and the occasional crying fit doesn’t stop them turning to the archetypal ‘fun’ activities: sex, drugs, etc. Its message? Perhaps that old, evasive: ‘men act like animals but they really can’t help themselves.’ The women (director’s daughter Romy Louise Lauwers and Inge Van Bruystegem) dutifully morph into different personas, different prostitutes of different ages, shapes and sizes; assertive, sarcastic, they’re still sex slaves, ordered from a very efficient phone service invisibly manned by ‘Jeffrey’ (soon there will be an app).
If a sort-of empathy is gained with the public, it is in a shared exhaustion and disappointment – our expectations these days go way beyond anything actual eroticism can provide. The actors burst in naked at the beginning. We’ve seen it all now, what next? In a previous piece Lauwers picked apart European arrogance and obsession with identity. Here he tackles a more personal narcissism that combines contradictory impulses: sadism, self-destruction and attention-seeking; those that shout loudest are those most desperate for approval.