Jesus, the Son.
“Look at me. I need you to look at me.” Jesus, the Son, with script and staging by Elmano Sancho, premiered on September 15 at Teatro da Trindade/Fundação Inatel, opens with the foundational affirmation of human existence: To be seen to exist. Or the negation of invisibility. The permission to exist (immediately at birth sustained by our parents) is the liberating condition of the darkness in which we live.
This play by Elmano Sancho is the Via Dolorosa, the crossing of solitude towards death, which turns out to be a powerful call to live without masks, without feigning, existing fully until the very last consequences: “I didn’t have the courage to kill myself. I died of Sadness.” Even the three elements of this Holy Family are brutally raw and unabashed, so no one knows exactly where they belong. A huge frustration affects mother, father, and son, all being aware of their inadequate roles. With no room for any illusion, self-consciousness can be cruel. This is an unhappy family, like many others, whose gimmicks found to overcome their sadness result in a tragic-comic farce. Jesus (Vicente Wallenstein) is the son aware of his total isolation. Despite the effort, we live and die alone, however much it costs us. He no longer leaves the house because he is fatally ill, he cannot recognise himself because nobody has ever seen him. He incessantly searches for his identity, which was denied to him at birth by his parents. By Mary, the mother (Joana Bárcia), who never managed to accept her melancholic mood and the fact that her son shows the emptiness that dwells in all of us. And Joseph, the father (Elmano Sancho), whose only duty was to protect him from his mother’s projective demands. José is a kind of mirror-man. He mirrors the needs of the family members, but apparently without success. Joana Bárcia, Jesus’ mother, delivers an exceptional and relentless performance. Throughout the play, she manages to make us feel disgust, embarrassment for others and for ourselves, reaching irony, laughter, despair, in a wide range of emotions, in an exciting performance. As satire, this show shows us the nonsense of an existence trivialised by the lack of love and emotional connection between family members, by the need to constantly feed an image, or a kind of faith manufactured by religion, or a form of ritualistic obsession guaranteed by any social media platform. After all, wanting to be seen implies a simulacrum. To be seen is not only to be visible. To be seen, we must be looked at and accepted. This is the miracle for which we are all still waiting.
Jesus, the Son, is on stage at Teatro da Trindade/Fundação Inatel until 30 October.
Script and staging: Elmano Sancho
With Elmano Sancho, Joana Bárcia, Vicente Wallenstein and Ruy de Carvalho (voice-over)
Set design: Samantha Silva
Light design: Pedro Nabais
Costumes: Ana Paula Rocha
Staging assistance: Paulo Lage
Co-production Teatro da Trindade INATEL, Loup Solitaire, Casa das Artes de Famalicão, Teatro Municipal de Bragança Project funded by the Directorate-General for the Arts