The Unicorn Theatre is a dedicated children's theatre, but that does not mean that their programme is predictable or safe. And that frisson of excitement, not just about what's on stage, but what can happen on stage, is present in GobSquad's and Campo's extraordinary collaboration, Before Your Very Eyes.
Behind a one way mirror, seven teenagers sit about, mooch about, lounge about in the goldfish bowl that has become familiar from Big Brother. Continuing that motif, a disembodied voice starts to ask them questions and we're soon off on a whistlestop tour of lives lived in fast-forward.
Using video clips, the kids hold conversations with their younger selves, through which we learn of their hopes, and of the tiny, but psychologically huge, differences between what a kid believes in at 12 and what a kid believes in at 14. This might be so much smart-arsery were it not for the remarkable acting in the filmed scenes, made when the kids were very young indeed. Though obviously speaking unscripted lines in the clips, the conversations between "then" and "now" are eeriely natural and bitingly relevant to the play.
Though teenage rebellion, middle-age disappointment and old age acceptance of one's lot are hardly new takes on the seven ages of man, the fact that we know we're watching children (and possibly because they are speaking the strangely familiar / unfamiliar Flemish language, surtitled like an opera) retains a certain freshness, an innocence that is never quite swept away by cynicism.
As the actors accept a huge reception at the curtain, one's left astonished by the power of their performances and of the potential of theatre to tell stories. Before Your Very Eyes pushes the boundaries of theatre - before your very eyes.