BWW Review: ROCKY! - THE LOSER'S RETURNS at Teatern Under Bron
Rocky! Förlorarens återkomst/Rocky! The loser's returns Opening night 16 August at Teatern Under Bron/The Theater Under the Bridge
For the fourth year in a row, the Theater Under the Bridge/Teatern Under Bron, set up a contemporary play which will shake you up and leave you with a feel of discomfort. The Theater Under the Bron is located under the Liljeholmsbron which is as far from an ordinary theater environment you can get. This is an outdoor theater, it is rough, gray concrete with a touch of color by the graffiti art, not a place you think of as a theater. Just next door is the park Tanto with its green lawns, beach and a real summer city idyll. But a few weeks during the summer, the place under the bridge also becomes an exciting and pleasant oasis with a small pub and a food truck where people gather to play various games and table tennis. There are Quiz-nights, movie nights for three weekends, The Theater Under the Bridge sets up a play. My friend who had never been here before and never heard of it said "It feels like I've been moved to Berlin, what a great place and what a great atmosphere this is". I can only agree, it is a very special place and if you are in Stockholm during the summer you should not miss it.
This year's play, "Rocky! The Loser's Return" is written by Tua Biering and had it's premier in Denmark a couple of years ago. Sofia Ledarp performs in a very strong and intense way. She captures the audience with her blue expressive eyes and you can't let go until the play is over. She is not the tallest of actors, as she is 159 cm, but her power and intensity fill every inch of the stage anyway. The play starts nice and pleasant as she tells us about her fascination with the first Rocky movie. She is an intelligent actor who belongs to the establishment, but still she is fascinated by this rough guy. She talks about how he was told early on that he wasn't a clever boy and the only thing he could do was to use his body. He was told this by both his father and his teachers. He starts boxing but it's not that easy as he is left-handed. Growing up was difficult with a dad started drinking when the shipyard closed and he was made redundant. One evening he fell of the shore and drowned. Rocky notices that something is changing in the area where he lives. People from other countries and backgrounds starts to move in and they do not have to pay for themselves. At the same time, he is challenged by the dark-skinned Apollo for a boxing fight where the aim is that he will lose but make a lot of money. Somewhere here the story changes from pleasant to disturbing. Rocky is going to take revenge, but it's not just a revenge in the boxing ring but in society as well. Since the only thing he can do is fight, that's what he bets on outside the ring as well. He brings with him other Rockys/losers who also want to take revenge and take back their society, the racism and the hostility to society become stronger and clearer.
We get an in-depth and very unpleasant description of how best to beat and harm another person. Would have been less unpleasant if you saw it than when Sofia calmly describes how to do. More and more people are resorting to violence. But then Rocky realizes that through violence he just kills himself, it's his own self-hatred that he gets out of himself. Despite him being dyslexic he begins to study at university and there he meets new well-educated friends who also want to change society. Same views but they use different methods. Rocky becomes the champion of rhetoric and is starting to appear on posters in town, giving speeches and just before the election, he and his followers has grown quite large in numbers. No one believes they are anything to worry about, that they never can win an election. But many well-educated people join, teachers, doctors and others and suddenly they have the power. What happens to those who want a good society now? How can they resist when even the family starts voting for a racist party? What resources should they use? But this can't happen in reality, right? Does this feel like something that has happened in Sweden? The Rocky movie character suddenly has startling similarities to real people around the world as well as in Sweden. Society has changed, people are scared or worried. The person Rocky we first first felt sympathy for turns into an unpleasant person who we dislike, and unfortunately they are growing in numbers. Sofia Ledarp smoothly slides in and out of the various characters with slight changes in facial expressions and posture, but the contrasts are still very clear and noticeable.
Sofia keeps the entire audience spellbound all the time throughout the play and it feels like you start to breathe again only when it's over. An amazing achievement that is rewarded with standing ovations and long applause. The Theater Under the Bridge has also this year succeeded in its choice of play and I look forward to next year's play with excitement.
Don't miss this year's show. Rocky! Last performance is the 1st of September and tickets can be purchased here or at the entrance.