By Veronika Kallus
Merde! Over, done, gone. Already, too soon.
An hour and a bit – and art and beauty and wit and imagination are gone again, the show is over, Underbelly is still Underbelly, Fringe is Fringe again, Edinburgh stays Edinburgh, and rain just simply falls as rain.
Gone are the faces and figures that told the story of Arthur Rimbaud – poet, libertine, lost soul – with fierce and fun and futility. Growing up in Charleville in the Ardennes, he is governed by his mother, a fierce and ruling woman –portrayed here as a living puppet in black dress, pitch-perfectly moved by the grown up Rimbaud. There is the young Rimbaud, the boy who runs away to Paris, on the train, without a ticket. He gets arrested and locked up in prison – looks like the guards have some macabre fun. Poetry is interpreted and acted out, but there is always a pinch of doubt – not for no reason has he been called the father of modern poetry, even surrealism. Then comes Verlaine – through poetry (and probably their dispositions) they are drawn into a storm of passion, absinthe and decadence. A frame for the whole story is provided by – what would you call him? A narrator? An art critique? A biographer? – Anyway, he never gets a word in and a sentence finished when Rimbaud is around.
Gone is the stage, gone are the beer crates creating walls and cities and chaos and nothingness. One of the most remarkable staging elements of the play is the transfiguration of an innocent table covered with a pink tablecloth into – something else, something completely else, not quite so innocent, but just as pink. You need to see it to believe. Gone also is the swearing, the sodomy, violence, and the art and heart of Rimbaud’s life.
The storyline, the actors, the set-up, the script – all will leave the audience longing for more, with a promise of more to come that will remain unfulfilled. Over, done, gone. Just like Rimbaud who with scarcely twenty years of age declares: ‘The time has come to bury my imagination’.
All that is left to do is be grateful that Rimbaud wrote, and that the play existed, for a short while.