The production of Do You Want to Know a Secret? by Daniel Pinkerton is being performed this week at Mierscher Kulturhaus by the Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg (Actors Rep), with the five-performance run opening on Wednesday evening; on Tuesday, the Luxembourg Chronicle got the opportunity to sit in on the dress rehearsal.
The play is set in Berlin between 1988 and 1993 - before and aftert he fall of the wall and towards the end of the Cold War in which fear and paranoia ruled when everyone just may be spying on everyone else in a psychological tortuous setting of universal betrayal - and features the Berger family.
The play starts off by featuring the use of video projects used for one of various flashback sequences which help set the scene. Walter (Timothy Lone) and his daughter Erika (Sarah Lamesch) talk about their mother Karin (Rhona Richards) who is about to be released having been arrested. After her release she meets her friend Ana (Christine Probst) and her father Wolf Niedermann (Gilbert Johnston), with her desire to access her Stasi file - one criticism could be that these two fine actors did not have more lines to display their undoubted talents. This is certainly not to take anything away from the leads who lay bare their souls in this most psychological of dramas.
Slow-moving - particularly in Act I - and heavy on dialogue, the actors must all be credited with delivering their lines with clear diction and feeling and emotion, particularly fondness / love in reflection and paranoia, keeping the audience's attention throughout. It helps to know the timeline for each scene - a quick glance at the programme will reveal this information, without which it can be a little confusing.
Act II starts with an explosion of emotion as the family is ripped apart by a startling discovery which shatters interpersonal dynamics and heightens tensions all round; the startling difference is reminiscent of black vs white, or even east vs west. Sarah Lamesch, in particular, delivers a powerful monologue as she voices her upset and unease as revelations unfold. The setting could be compared to any such family situtaion, it just happens to be Berlin and features the Stasi regime; on the other hand it does portray a pivotal time in contemporary European history which is still within living memory.
The spacious stage area in the Kulturhaus offers great scope for directors, and John Brigg as set designer has done very well indeed to create no less than seven separate mini-sets within one, plus the projection backdrop, helped no end by the simple use of spotlights. The venue also offers great acoustics, so it does not matter on which row of the tiered bleachers one is seated, to hear every line uttered.
Written by Daniel Pinkerton who has received various awards for this work, this is the first time the play has been performed in Europe. Directed by Erik Abbott with Julie Fraser as Assistant Director in what has become her second home, the Kulturhaus in Mersch: with the A7 motorway now open, it takes just 15 minutes to reach from the Kirchberg roundabout.
Do You Want to Know a Secret? is being performed from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 March 2016 at 20:00 and Sunday 13 March at 17:00. Tickets cost €20 (students €10) and are available from the Mierscher Kulturhaus Box Office, tel: 263243-1 Or: www.luxembourg-ticket.lu, tel: 470895-1.
Photos by Geoff Thompson