Lecture on keeping a secret

Natali Broods embodies a complex portrait of women.

Sometimes you can't help wondering if staging a monologue really adds anything to the written text. But not so with Het was zonder twijfel een ongeluk (It must have been an accident), Natali Broods' first solo piece. After this interpretation it is hard to imagine that Marlen Haushofer's original short story Wij doden Stella (We murder Stella) can be equally ambiguous.

The story is in fact deceptively simple. Wife doesn't intervene when husband begins a relationship with foster daughter, after which foster daughter throws herself under a lorry. The stuff of a thriller, but neither Haushofer nor Broods keeps us in suspense about the final 'accident'. What the play is interested in is the ruminating conscience of the role of the mother. "Where did my responsibility lie?" Broods moves around the stage between the projected photograph of a garden where a chick sits cheeping in vain for mother's food, and two sofas, the housewife's waiting nest. Only sensory impressions come between the active outside world and the inside world of her character. Conversely, the woman is incapable of action. Every time a decision is reached, the idea hears that it will not be carried out.

The tension Broods is not allowed to show has all the qualities of a lecture: assertion, protracted effusion. It keeps the narrative light and provides contrast with the graphic moments when the wooden stage suddenly bends double, like puppet strings snapping under the weighty burden of guilt. You rarely see so many sides of women on stage. But the production's greatest merit is that Broods allows us to see her. Rather than showing a failed mother, she insists that women (and men) can take greater responsibility for themselves. They can step out of the wings.

De Morgen, Wouter Hillaert, October 3rd, 2007