Provocative and unforgettable, Pim and Theo plays sees a small audience encircling the two leads, standing throughout and being pulled into the narrative in more ways than one as this purgatorial primer into issues of tolerance, multiculturalism and free speech unfolds.
Stuck together in an abstract eternity immediately following their horrifying public deaths at the hands of extremists, provocateur politician Pim Fortuyn lands in the celestial realm with his head pumping claret, unable to remember what happened to him, while outspoken artist Theo Van Gogh is tragically unable to forget.
as events unfold, their passions and opinions are revealed
With the murders happening in the abstract and seemingly immediately prior to the arrival of the audience, it’s down to Theo to fill Pim in on their prior relationship and the raw circumstance behind their brutal deaths. As events unfold, their passions and opinions are revealed.
Remaining assuredly on the side of freedom of speech and the right to offend, the show reveals the insidious erosion of both across Europe through the political and philosophical leanings of the two men.
The openly gay and promiscuous Fortuyn leans heavily right in his views, laying down edicts racist to some but mere common sense to others, while Van Gogh took an absolutist line on freedom of expression and the right of all to offend and – crucially – be offended.
Both continue to defend their principles beyond the grave, in a macabre gameshow where expressing the wrong opinion can see you killed by a ‘word bomb’, visualised naturally and disturbingly by a suicide vest, and a pair of handcuffs joining the two men, sealing their fates together in death as in life.
words become weapons and opinions become bombs
With the opinions of the men are at the heart of the piece, the audience is confronted at the end by the horrifying fact that ultimately, both men died simply because they offended someone, and that of you offend the ‘wrong’ person or group, a different opinion can end your life.
When words become weapons and opinions become bombs, the audience are forced to consider their own position, and take on board a diabolical proposition – if a single wrong word or thought could lead to your death, would you go ahead and say it anyway?
Leigh Venus at Northern Stage, 12 May 2016
Originally published in Narc Magazine