translated by Rina Vergano
Lot Vekemans' play Poison (its title in the original Dutch is Gif) is an austere portrait of a separated couple grieving for their dead son.
The first performance of Gif took place at NT Gent/NL on 8 December 2009. Poison, in Rina Vergano's English translation, was premiered at the Samuel Beckett Theater, off-Broadway, from 10 November 2016. It received its British premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, on 2 November 2017.
The play's action is set in the chapel of a cemetery, where a man and a woman (identified only as He and She) meet by arrangement after a separation that has lasted a decade. Their backstory emerges in the course of their conversation: they were married until he walked out on the millennial New Year’s Eve, and, while he has moved to Normandy, she has stayed in their native Holland. What brings them together is a scheme by the cemetery to relocate two hundred graves, including that of their son, Jakob, who died tragically young. The man, who is a journalist, is seeking some form of closure by writing a book and starting a new life; while his ex-wife immerses herself in daily routines without ever being able to overcome her grief.
The NT Gent/NL production was directed by Johan Simons and designed by Leo de Nijs, and performed by Elsie de Brauw and Steven Van Watermeulen.
The Samuel Beckett Theater production was directed by Erwin Maas and performed by Birgit Huppuch and Michael Laurence.
The Orange Tree Theatre production was directed by Paul Miller and designed by Simon Daw, and performed by Claire Price and Zubin Varla.