Circles round love

A small audience takes its place at a long table. The wine has been brought up to room temperature, the glasses are ready. Actor Frank Vercruyssen fills them with red wine. The setting for nusch is intimate, and consequently awkward.

Vercruyssen breaks the ice with a chat for the benefit of wine connoisseurs and, before you know it, it becomes a soliloquy on love, because like wine, love sometimes tastes sweet and velvety, sometimes it has a strong aftertaste, but it is always well-rounded in the mouth.

For nusch , STAN actor Frank Vercruyssen made an anthology of the poetry of Paul Eluard, the French poet who along with André Breton and Louis Aragon formed the backbone of the surrealist movement, but later distanced themselves from it.

Vercruyssen focuses on Eluard’s love for Nusch, an acrobat and model to (among others) Picasso and Man Ray. After the horrors of the Second World War, Eluard wrote ‘Poésie ininterrompue’ (Unbroken Poetry), an uninterrupted torrent of words alluding to human memory.

The object these words so stealthily avoid is his love for Nusch. She is personified by the dancer on the table (Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker).

Initially sitting motionless on the table, the words gradually bring her to life. Held behind her back are her fettered arms, because love can sometimes feel like that. She then wrenches loose, rolling across the table, tilting towards a pillar, supported by Vercruyssen. Because love is sometimes like that.

Here STAN ‘tables’ highly intimate poetry and as a member of the audience you sit with your nose on the object of Eluard’s love. She disappears quietly through the door, as suddenly as Nusch vanished from the poet’s life when she died of a brain haemorrhage. Eluard went on to express his sense of grief and powerlessness in ‘Le Temps Déborde’ (Time Overflowing).

That is also the effect STAN has on his audience: time overflows in this production and in the torrent of words your thoughts wander and re-focus.

Nusch is a small meditative pause whose strength lies is in its simplicity.

De Morgen, Liv Laveyne, December 6th 2006