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Review: The End of Eddy at the Unicorn Theatre

Alex Austin as Eddy and Kwaku Mills as Eddy in The End of Eddy. A Unicorn Theatre and Untitled Projects Production. Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
Alex Austin as Eddy and Kwaku Mills as Eddy in The End of Eddy. A Unicorn Theatre and Untitled Projects Production. Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Based on the book En Finir Avec Eddy Bellegueule by Edouard Louis and adapted for the stage by Pamela Carter, The End of Eddy is a compelling piece of theatre.

Inventive, confident, brutal and brilliantly performed by Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills, this is theatre for young people at its best.

The play tells the story of Eddy’s childhood in his northern French town. His town is filled with violence, judgments and small-minded views. Eddy is different. Being different is dangerous, and we watch as he tries to fit in, to be the version of a man his family and his town demand. While the ‘outcast in a small town’ storyline might not be the most original, the storytelling and the themes explored lift the play into something that feels fresh. The questions around sexuality, masculinity and the conflict between desire and the desire to fit in, are all very contemporary, and it’s handled beautifully.

Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills both play Eddy, and all the supporting characters, making good use of the four television screens that act as backdrop, props and characters. I worried that this device might become tiring, but Stewart Laing’s direction ensures that the pace never slows and that the props stay unexpected and provide an extra dimension of drama.

This is a play that covers bullying, sexual awakening, LGBTQ issues and cleverly tiptoes right up to the edges of what might be considered acceptable for its’ intended audience. But it’s very funny too – and performed with such relish by the two actors that it’s impossible not to be charmed. This is an inventive, bold piece of theatre, that’s not always an easy watch, but is always absorbing.

5 Star Rating

Review by Roz Wyllie

Born into brutal poverty, in the cultural wilderness of post-industrial rural France, a boy grows up amongst hard men and women living hard and violent lives. Bullied relentlessly for being gay, this is the story of Eddy’s struggle to understand who he is, who he might become, and of his fight to escape.

Written when he was just 21 and combining vivid and urgent storytelling with frank reflections on sexuality, poverty and prejudice, Édouard Louis’ acclaimed novel was first published in 2014 and is both unflinchingly honest and darkly entertaining. This new and boldly theatrical stage adaptation is a joint Unicorn Theatre and Untitled Projects commission and reunites visionary director Stewart Laing and his long-term collaborator, writer Pamela Carter, who have worked together since 2005.

Unicorn Theatre / Untitled Projects production
THE END OF EDDY
Based on the book En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule by Édouard Louis,
Adapted by Pamela Carter
Directed by Stewart Laing
Designed by Hyemi Shin with Video Design by Finn Ross
Lighting by Zerlina Hughes with sound by Josh Anio Grigg
Thursday 13 September – Saturday 6 October 2018 at the Unicorn Theatre

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