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The End Of Eddy

17 October 2019 | 4:13 pm | Cameron Colwell

"[S]ure to provoke much discussion and thought." Photo by Tommy Ga-ken Wan.

Stewart Laing and Pamela Carter’s The End Of Eddy is an innovative and frank exploration of homophobia and poverty among the rural working class of France. Faithfully adapted from Edouard Louis’ bestselling novel about his own childhood in a town called Hallencourt, the nuances and nauseating honesty of the prose are substituted by the brilliant performances of James Russell-Morley and Oseloka Obi. Both are matched in their roles as the titular Eddy, whose homosexuality is the focus of the play. 

The choice for two actors to play the lead, and everybody else, is one which is handily explained in the opening, which draws attention to the conceits of the play in a way that feels jarring. Despite the use of four television screens to reflect the four flat-screens of Eddy’s house and to give voice to the play’s other characters, the sense of Eddy’s isolation is omnipresent. Most of the time, this is effective, but in some of the more moving moments, such as Obi’s rage-filled monologue when he steps into the role of Vincent, Eddy’s brother, one wishes the digital imposition would get out of the way of the art.

The intense violence, racism, and homophobia in the play are difficult to watch but handled well by the play. One monologue performed by Russell-Morley, about the sexual assault of Eddy by a family member, is heartbreaking. There’s no trite ‘it gets better’ message here either, instead, a clear-eyed analysis of violence - how it reproduces, how people grow used to it, how it imprints on the young in a way that doesn’t let go. Its power as a queer story far away from middle-class liberal enclaves is paramount. 

Its attempt to “reclaim the joie de vivre every outsider deserves” is understandable and at times a welcome reprieve, but occasionally feels weak and out of place, particularly in the ending moments, where the inclusion of a Celine Dion song feels like a flippant distraction. This considered, The End Of Eddy is a harrowing piece of theatre which creates a tangible sense of place, sure to provoke much discussion and thought.