The risks of creating a show about moral ambiguity are about as high as they come in theatre, but that is why they can be so impactful. Bastiaan Vandendreissche’s De Fuut takes its inspiration from Lolita and tells a story of Vandendreissche’s experiences as a summer camp leader six years ago, and his temptation towards two young girls.
The word “story” is used lightly. The non-linear narrative jumps between anecdotes, from his time as a boy at the summer camp, to being a leader, to the process of writing the play. The meta-references blur the line between reality and performance, leaving the audience in a swamp of uncertainty about whether you are in a room with a monster or a man who is skilled at convincing you he is one.
Unfortunately though, this can leave the audience clutching at straws as to what they are actually witnessing. Vandendrissche’s use of convention comes off as indecisive – from crazed dancing to addressing audience members as though they are children in his care, to offering a chance at audience participation. Heaven knows what would happen if anyone has the bravery to accept. Most of the performance consists of him sitting on a stool, breaking the fourth wall, and storytelling. It is as though he is trying to relive a common experience, a twisted take on the summer camps from our collective youth, but his creation feels far too alien to have the desired effect.
As a result, his despicable descriptions of child molestation come across as just that. His frequent references to Lolita, as though trying to make a sequel set in a Dutch holiday camp, only serve to highlight that perhaps a Fringe show does not allow the time or pace to provoke the same sympathetic response as Nabokov’s masterpiece.
His persona, or perhaps his stage presence, works to put its audience on edge. It is not merely his confession of immoral desires, nor his lack of remorse or regret for acting upon them. What makes him so unnerving is his tense posture, his quick movement even to the most minor of things like changing the music, and how quick he is to anger. He has the demeanour of a bully, and it is a terrifying one. In spite of his effective performance, De Fuut’s incoherent realisation of its themes leaves a mess of obscene ideas.