Nordic Noir – The Evil

nordicnoirThe Evil by Jan Guillou, Dramatised by Benny Haag

Part of a Nordic Noir evening at the Riverside Studios – 13th May 2014

A guest review by Derek Linney

The Evil is an adaption of a novel by the Swedish writer Jan Guillou. It is performed as a monologue by Danish actor Claes K. Bang – who has played parts in The Bridge and Borgen.

Guillou’s work is allegedly an autobiographical account of his home life as a child and particularly his time at boarding school, having been expelled from his previous school. It portrays a world of subjugation maintained by fear and bullying. When direct pressure on the individual fails then it is exerted through their weaknesses – in this case the protagonists best, and only, friend. In this world violence can only be countered by violence. As the character maintains: “Passive resistance doesn’t work in the short term”.

The piece is powerfully portrayed and leaves a distinctly uncomfortable feeling in the audience. The only upside for the character is that the violence he is subjected to at school enables him to finally stand up to the violence from his father at home, but only through the threat of violence in return. A morally ambiguous position.

Guillou’s account of his childhood has been challenged by his family but nonetheless the image conjured up by Claus Bang is, unfortunately, too easy to recognise as real. An exhausting performance, for actor and audience alike, that one can hardly say is enjoyable but  one which is rewarding to see.