Review of a theater play
“Sexillions. The fear of getting lost”
Original title: Trilliarden. Die Angst vor dem Verlorengehn. Schauspielhaus Hamburg, Germany.
Synopsis: Sexillions. The fear of getting lost is a play directed by Ingrid Lausund, currently playing at the theater Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, Germany. Sexillions tackles the deepest subjects of human existence, namely: the meaning of life, religion and belief, death. When the curtain rises, several people emerge from a thick fog – the play gives the appearance they’re all naked. They are tall and short, thin and fat, young and old. These seven characters, all desperately searching for happiness, will “develop” themselves during the play, some will gain weight, wear different types of clothes, change hairstyles. Everyone ages in his or her own way. While walking in a circle across the stage, each of them has his or her own story to tell; each of them shares their most intimate emotions, fears, insights, his or her vision of the world. Nevertheless, all this information is not shared among the characters but transmitted in the form of a monologue.
Among the characters, there is the young consumerist with narcissistic tendencies, the civil servant who privileges material security over everything else, the over-empathic woman with a strong desire for a child, the fanatic geriatric trying to let go, among others – caricatures that, in a hilarious, grotesque and sober way, accurately represent the trends prevalent in modern Western society, as well as the questioning of these trends. At the end of the play, a single character appears on stage, and delivers a long philosophical monologue: “Suppose I have a soul, which enters the hereafter after death, will my ego always be in this soul? ”
Our analysis: The director has succeeded in creating a space that is both strange and unpleasant for the spectator, who observes a group of individuals incapable of speaking to each other but only to themselves. Inevitably, the spectator creates a direct link with at least one of the characters, either by identifying a parallel with his or her own sufferings, or through compassion for the character. The intensity and length of the monologues, in which people start to talk about their weaknesses and disorientation, may also become unbearable for the spectator, who can choose to stay in this space to reach some sort of insight, or disconnect from it entirely, which necessarily deprives him or her of the essence of the play and its underlying messages. Unfortunately, the philosophical monologue at the end of the play is too long and complicated, leaving the spectator in a theoretical space instead of inviting him or her to take concrete actions to change certain behavior patterns.
Overall, Sexillions is an interesting analytical creation containing some important wisdoms, underpinned by an excellent performance by the actors. It will undoubtedly disturb the audience, who may laugh, cry or remain silent, but it certainly invites us to reflect on the world in which we live and on our own existence.