BWW Review: ADMISSION at Playhouse Teater
Admission, Opening night 25th of September at Playhouse Theater, Stockholm, Sweden
Admissions by Joshua Elias Harmon is probably the best play I've ever seen at Playhouse Theater in Stockholm. It raises serious and difficult questions about ethics, family, racism and it is viewed from various angels and shows that a lot of things are not as black and white as we might want them to be. The dialogue is well-written and fun so in the middle of the serious it invites to a lot of laughter. All actors are absolutely brilliant in their roles.
Admission is about Louise (Jessica Liedberg), who is responsible for admission to one of the best schools in the US and together with her husband Henry (Björn Lönner) who is the principal of the school, she has long struggled for the school to take in more non-white students. For them, diversity is important and they want to be able to show it. They are highly educated and live a good life. The play starts when Louise calls Monica (Pia Oscarsson) to her office to tell her that she has to redo the admission catalog as it contains too few pictures of non-whites. In the evening Louise meets her old friend Jenni (Cecilia Frode) who has bought a cake as they are expecting celebrate that their sons and best friends Charlie (Linus Nilsson) and Peter both have been admitted to Yale. Jenni gets a call from an overjoyed Peter but Jenni never gets a call from Charlie. After many hours, Charlie comes to his troubled parents with the disappointing message that he is just a reserve. Immediately the question arises, whether Peter has been admitted as a result from black quatas, Peter is bright-skinned but his dad is black so he may have applied for the special quota for blacks. Charlie is furious at the injustice he believes that his own merits are better than Peter, but he is just a white privileged boy. He who has already seen himself "defeated" by the fact that a girl was chosen editor of the school newspaper instead of him, something that he thinks is only because she is a girl and the school wanted to show that you could have a girl at that position. How will Louise and Henry respond to this message? The son has not come in thanks to a system of quotas which they themselves praise and invest everything in. Should they now use their contacts in the university world to get benefits for their white privileged son? How do you look at this morally? What is so good is that the same question is highlighted from everyone's perspective and it shows so clearly that it is not black and white. At whose expense will anyone else get a seat? How much space should the white man take? What is justice?
One of the most well-played plays I've seen and everyone delivers on top. Björn Lönner is in best performance as Henry. Jessica Liedberg (Louise) switches fantastically well between her roles as strong and hands-on manager to the worried mother who is willing to do everything for her son, and is firmly convinced that she knows what is best for him. Cecilia Frodes is superb as Jenni who throughout her life had to fight for her son to be treated equal due to his background. Pia Oscarsson's is authentic in her role as Monica who does her job without listening as much to what the boss says and when she hears that she has not done the job according to wishes puts up an incomprehensible facade and comes up with obstinate arguments. The relationship between Louise and Monica is spot on to reality, and who you think is right in that situation probably depends on what role you have yourself. But it is very recognizable. But most of all, Linus Nilsson shines and glimmer as Charlie. A new star in the actor's sky has been lit! His long harangue about how unfairly treated he was and where he wove in so many aspects of racism and what origins one has and what benefits it can provide, was absolutely incredible. Thinkable and super fun at the same time. He has the whole audience in his grasp there and I don't think anybody doesn't agree with him right there because it sounds so good, but as soon as he stops talking (and after a long applause) Henry turns it all around and makes the whole audience shiver and think, what did he really say. So many times in the play that you are thrown back and forth in what is right and wrong, whose perspective should you see it from?
I really liked the simple scenography. On the stage they have built a "box" which is a room and sometimes it is the office and sometimes the home of Louise and Henry. With small means such as a table that is turned in different directions, you get the feeling of what room this is. When they are at home it is so clear that there is a room in the house as the actors leave the room but the dialogue continues with the person who left the room, just as you do when you are at home. Brilliant instead of building more rooms.
I really recommend that you see Admission at Playhouse Theater which is played until November 9th.
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