Today I photographed the dress rehearsal for Ondskan, written by Jan Guillou. adapted to theatre by Benny Haag and directed by Rebecca Vaa. The English title is The Evil, and the play lives up to its name. It tells the story of Erik, and his abusive upbringing both at home and at school. The play has some autobiographic elements, Jan Guillou has stated that his childhood was steeped in violence. Curiously, he lived part of his early life in Näsbypark where I grew up.

From Camdram:

Erik is a boy whose life has always been defined by violence. With an abusive stepfather at home, and his position as ringleader for a gang of abusive boys, it seems he cannot escape from it. After a heist gone wrong, his headmaster calls him in, accusing him of being the leader of a terror-regime, and states “You are evil, people like you must be destroyed…”

Erik is then shipped off to the exclusive, expensive Sveaborg boarding school, thinking he is given the change to reinvent himself, to lead a new way of life. But the Student Council and their regime of demeaning and degrading humiliation and principles of “responsibility for each others’ upbringing and discipline” soon test all of Erik’s patience and faith. Their cruelty seems to know no bounds, and seems to have no opposition.

Can you resist evil without resorting to evil yourself? Does doing evil things make you evil, or is it the other way around? This chilling production will make you question the very nature of “the evil”.

Here are the photos from the dress rehearsal.

Gus Mitchell as the Fortress, the youth gang’s debt collector.
Erik and his gang. Ed Limb, Hannah Sand and Zephyr Brüggen, the rest of the cast are hidden in shadows.
Ed Limb alternated between personifying Erik, and narrating the story.
Erik returning home, expecting a beating from his father. Ed Limb and Zephyr Brüggen
Erik’s mother finally leaves his father, and they move on to what they hope will be a better life. Ed Limb and Zephyr Brüggen. It is very tempting to do these backlit photos, but I try not to overuse it.
Zephyr Brüggen, Jérôme Burelbach, Ellen McGrath and Ed Limb
Ellen McGrath as Erik’s friend Pierre.
Erik getting introduced to his new home, the school Sveaborg. Gus Mitchell and Ed Limb. I positioned myself low so the spotlight would be behind Gus’ head.
Ed Limb, Gus Mitchell, Hao Feng and Zephyr Brüggen
Hao Feng as the Otto Silverheilm, the head pupil who takes pleasure in punishing the weaker and younger students.
Ed Limb and Zephyr Brüggen. Erik convinces another pupil to resist the punishments of the elder students.
Her resistance has consequences, she gets taken to the square and beaten very badly. Here Zephyr Brüggen.
The gang returns to Erik’s and Pierre’s dorm room in the night to punish them. Zephyr Brüggen, Hao Feng, Jérôme Burelbach and Hannah Sand.
Erik waits for them with a baseball bat. Ed Limb and Ellen McGrath.
Gus Mitchell, Hao Feng, Jérôme Burelbach and Zephyr Brüggen
Ed Limb
Showdown between Hao’s and Ed’s characters.
The fight gets interrupted by the principal that can no longer ignore what is going on.
Erik “won” the fight by passively taking the beating, showing that Otto could not break him. Twisted logic.
Instead the gang starts to focus on Erik’s friend Pierre.
Pierre is not safe.
Ellen and Hao, as her tormentor.
Stubborn defiance from Pierre.
The mob punishes her.
Ed and Ellen.
Things reach a climax when Ellen’s character gets strung up like a pig.
Boiling hot water…
We had to do the scene where Ellen McGrath gets boiling water over her twice. The first time the bucket was in the shot, so the second time we had two buckets from behind, to hide them and get a more even spread of the water droplets. I think the shutter time was something around 1/320 second, we could probably have done it even shorter to freeze the droplets more.
Pierre has had enough, and leaves Sveaborg.
Gus Mitchell
Showdown between Erik and his father. Ed Limb and Jérôme Burelbach, with Zephyr Brüggen in the background.
We did a few more photos after the dress rehearsal finished, here Ed Limb and his trusted baseball bat.


Reviews: Varsity (3/5), The Cambridge Student (9/10)

Erik – Ed Limb
Chorus – Gus Mitchell, Hao Feng, Jerome Burelbach,Ellen McGrath, Hannah Sands, Zephyr Brüggen

Production Team
Producer – Michael Tigchelaar
Director – Rebecca Vaa
Assistant Director – Michael Tigchelaar
Chief of Light – Johnny King
Publicity Designer – Natalie Price
Chief of Other Things – Rory Barber
Photographer – Johannes Hjorth
Fight Choreographer – Hao Feng

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