Whistler in the Dark Theatre concludes its fifth season with Family Stories, Biljana Srbljanovic’s haunting (and darkly hilarious) portrait of the cruelties and atrocities of a country at war with itself. First performed in Belgrade in 1997, Family Stories uses the games of four children to explore issues of censorship, war, oppression and rebellion.
“Family Stories is called a ‘slapstick tragedy’,” notes artistic director Meg Taintor, “and the term fits it perfectly. Srbljanovic is writing about a time and place that is undeniably tragic, but she is filtering it through the eyes of children: these children accept the world as it is and so it is only we, the grown-ups in the audience, who see the grander scope of tragedy. As for the ‘slapstick’ part… well, I’ve never seen quite so much violence packed into such a tight space and been able to laugh at it before!”
In Family Stories, four children are playing house in the wreckage of a bombed-out playground; reflected in the funhouse mirror of their game is a thrilling and devastating allegory of a post-war society. A brilliant marriage of slapstick and tragedy, the play examines the fear that results from living in a society without free media or civil liberties.
“I’m so excited to be tackling this play in the intimate confines of The Factory Theatre” says Taintor. “Whistler has always believed strongly in exploring the connection between the actors and the audience, and Family Stories will be one of the most exciting explorations we’ve had yet. We’ll be playing in the round, and turning the whole theatre into the playground for these children – our audience will be intimately connected to that world.”
Family Stories features Melissa Barker, Danny Bryck, Nate Gundy, and Jen O’Connor. It performs May 14 through May 30 at the Factory Theatre in Boston.