The tender Dutch touch on love

On the floor is a plain white carpet, marked out in black with the ground-plan of a studio flat. Around it, on four sides, sits the audience on a double row of benches; and at either corner stand two of the most exciting actors currently working in Flanders and the Netherlands: Steven van Watermeulen and Sara De Roo. As we watch, they begin to move into the roles of a couple meeting for an evening at the flat they shared until he left, six months ago; and for 90 minutes, in an English version of Oscar van den Boogaard’s beautiful script, they stage a tender and ruthless exploration of the mystery of love, and what happens to it when it is "over".

Even at its simplest, this would be a wise and deeply intelligent study. But what makes Lucia Melts such a powerful and exciting contribution to this year’s smash-hit Festival series of Royal Bank Lates, is the boldness with which it frees the actors from the need to waste energy creating the illusion that the audience is not there, and that they are "really" in an Antwerp flat. Instead, in a thrilling combination of informality and supreme skill, they work with and to the audience, moving openly in and out of character, in a situation so achingly familiar to us all.

Theatre Group STAN, who produced Lucia Melts , is a collective of Flanders-based writers and actors whose hugely successful work - famously without a director - surely raises questions about the conventions of theatre production.

The Scotsman, Joyce McMillan, August 23rd 2004

Nederlands