Couple relationship as a battlefield – on stage and online
Too Close is a theatrical performance about a millennial couple, a woman and a man braving the pitfalls of a long-standing partnership. They are facing life-changing decisions about how to live with oneself and together as a couple. Going through an existential crisis, the pair are questioning their personal and communal identities. Written by director and playwright Jaša Koceli, Too Close is a fresh and straightforward take on the theme of relationship and interconnectedness between partners. Domen Valič and Lea Mihevc, playing the characters of Ian and Eva, are dissecting their relationship – a bond that is far from perfect but nevertheless still beautiful. Co-produced by Cankarjev dom and the Paviljon Institute, Too Close is a return to the roots of dramatic conflict – to the tense, explosive relationship in a couple.
In building one’s personality, everyone goes through one or several partnerships in which they learn how to open up, to listen, to be patient, how to communicate and be understanding. A relationship often turns into a battlefield of resentment, pain, control and violence – creating a strained atmosphere that only intensified last year, inflamed by the pandemic. Too Close explores the aspects of a very close relationship and searches for the dividing line between a healthy relationship and one in which a couple get – too close. Jaša Koceli
The audience acting as an arbiter between softness and sharpness
Too Close interweaves Eva’s and Ian’s personal confessions, their dialogues and comments, as the characters confront each other, re-enacting and reliving past events. On the third level, they call on the spectators to act as arbiters, deciding in favour of one or the other. Establishing an innovative two-way interaction with the audience, the show builds up suspense. By performing movement exercises, the actors learnt the techniques of Acro-Yoga, a special type of Yoga where body positions are achieved by building trust between partners. As Acro-Yoga entails the balancing of two bodies and their mutual interdependence, it can be perceived as a metaphor for relationships. The stage set, designed as a soft cocoon featuring more than 3000 metres of thick cotton yarn, represents the ostensibly safe bubble of a partnership and one’s entrapment in it. The softness of the materials is at odds with the sharp assaults that the protagonists inflict on each other.
Advocating more freedom and tolerance in challenging times
Too Close is a call for greater freedom and tolerance, as well as greater honesty and confrontation in interpersonal relationships, because this enables mutual growth and reciprocal inspiration. Changing partners like switching between media devices and different content simply because a relationship has become dull or too challenging does not pay off. Although our lifestyles and movement have been restricted due to the current situation, we can always win more freedom and beauty in the privacy of our own cocoons.
A return to the roots of dramatic conflict
Too Close is the next step in the established director Jaša Koceli’s exploration of chamber theatre, a project undertaken in collaboration with his creative team: set designer Darjan Mihajlović Cerar, composer Miha Petric, choreographer Tajda Podobnik, costume designer Branka Pavlič, photographer and video artist Mankica Kranjec and lighting designer David Andrej Francky. Under the auspices of Cankarjev dom and the Paviljon Institute, Koceli returns to chamber and physical-drama theatre to explore the protagonists’ emotional triggers and the impulses behind their actions, which enables the spectators to strongly identify with the character(s). Members of this creative team contribute to projects and productions of all shapes and sizes, including large-scale national theatrical productions, such as The Magic Flute at the SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana (2019) and The Trojan Women at the Slovenian National Theatre Nova Gorica (2018). In the 2019/20 season Jaša Koceli and his associates gained strong international prominence with Electra, staged at Lithuania’s National Kaunas Drama Theatre, and the show 5Boys in Szombathely, Hungary. Smaller projects serve as a counterbalance to large-scale performances and a laboratory for the development of the team’s theatrical language.
Directed and written by: Jaša Koceli
Performed by: Lea Mihevc and Domen Valič
Set design: Darjan Mihajlović Cerar
Composer: Miha Petric
Choreographer: Tajda Podobnik
Photographs and projections by: Mankica Kranjec
Costume design: Branka Pavlič
Lighting design: David Andrej Francky
Language consultant: Martin Vrtačnik