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may we be forgiven

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director guy cassiers
from a.m. homes
duration n.n.b.
premiere 22 Feb 2018


The adaptation of this great American novel is Guy Cassiers’s third direction of a coproduction by Toneelgroep Amsterdam and Toneelhuis Antwerp. Cassiers directs a quality cast of actors from both companies.


The American writer A.M. Homes (1961) was born under difficult circumstances. Her mother was a young single woman who had an affair with her boss, who was much older. Homes ended up being adopted. She didn’t meet her birth parents until she was 31 years old. It is therefore not surprising that the importance of family – and the absence of it – is often the object of research in her books.

It is not a coincidence that her most recent novel May we be forgiven starts during Thanksgiving, the ultimate American family celebration. The main characters are Harold Silver and his brother George. The latter causes the death of a married couple (on purpose?) in a car accident. His accountability is investigated at a clinic. In the meantime, Harold has an affair with his brother’s wife. When George escapes from the clinic and discovers the adultery, he beats her to death. In turn, Harold’s own wife leaves him.

Now that the entire family is shattered, Harold is forced to take responsibility. Not only does he take care of the children of his imprisoned brother, he also allows the son of the married couple that died in the car accident to come and live with him. Almost despite himself, he manages to create a newly assembled family.

May we be forgiven is a poignant portrait of a society that undermines its own values: all its cornerstones – family, relatives, friendship, … – are under pressure and are in need of being redefined. The weaknesses of all characters are presented at pace, like a soap-opera-on-speed with a large dose of absurdity.


Cassiers about May we be forgiven

'During the past years, I worked on performances about political power and rulers with Hamlet vs Hamlet and The kindly ones. With A.M. Homes’s May we be forgiven, I will be staying closer to home and focusing on family and relatives. It has a much lighter tone.

Homes’s novel is like a rollercoaster of characters who are losing their grip on reality and their lives. Very American, but perhaps a preview of how human relationships are also evolving here in Europe, either downhill or uphill, that will gradually become clear. May we be forgiven gives an impression of the relational estrangement and emotional confusion of our time, without becoming cynical and even with a surprisingly optimistic ending.’

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