With The human voice (La voix humaine), Jean Cocteau wrote the ultimate farewell monologue. A woman speaks to her ex on the phone in a last attempt to undo their breakup. Gradually, she realizes that the lover has chosen another for good. This moving monologue premiered in 2009 and has since then travelled around the world. It was performed
in New York, St-Petersburg, Toronto, Dublin, Douai, Maribor, Sydney, Wuzhen, Barcelona and Hong Kong.
premiere 12 Feb 2009
About the play
In Jean Cocteau’s play La Voix Humaine (the human voice), a lone actress talks on the phone to a lover she has just broken up with. She keeps getting interrupted by a bad connection – the piece was written in 1930, but anybody who has ever experienced a lost signal will empathize. For about an hour, the unnamed woman goes through a rollercoaster of emotions as she addresses the man who left her, and herself. It is uncommonly, uncomfortably voyeuristic, even for theatre.
Ivo van Hove drives the point home by placing his performer, Halina Reijn, in a small boxlike room and behind a big glass window, through which the audience scrutinizes her. It feels as if she is imprisoned in her own apartment, and at times she roams her limited space like a caged animal. Halina Reijn takes the audience with her in the sorrow of this woman and her fight with the imminent void.
‘The text turned out to be so recognizable and accessible that I got caught up in this woman’s story from the first day of rehearsal. Much of it seemed to have been taken from my own life. It is not just a love story, but above all a desperate cry for the right to exist.’ – Halina Reijn
‘Halina Reijn’s performance of Cocteau’s tragic heroine is a scream into the existential abyss.’ - Time Out Sydney
‘Rich, and penetrating acting.’ - NRC
‘A spare, raw, enormously affecting production, brought to incisive life by Halina Reijn.’ - The Village Voice
'Eye-opening and haunting' - Theatermania.com
'Van Hove’s staging begins and ends with the inspired set, inside which Reijn unfurls a physical performance as unselfconscious as it is uncompromising' - New York Post
Ivo van Hove has been director of Internationaal Theater Amsterdam since 2001.
In season 19|20, he will be directing Freud (coproduction FC Bergman) and Who killed my father (Edouard Louis) and his productions A little life, Death in Venice, After the rehearsal / Persona, La voix humaine, Kings of war and Roman Tragedies will be reprised.
text Jean Cocteau
director Ivo van Hove
with Halina Reijn
translation Peter van Kraaij, Halina Reijn
dramaturge Peter Van Kraaij
scenografie, lightingdesign Jan Versweyveld
Avec l’aimable autorisation de M. Pierre Bergé, président du Comité Jean Cocteau.