Les Enfants du Baïkal (Baikalin lapset)
This play probes painfully yet amusingly into the younger days of today’s (beginning of the 21st century) cultural professionals: into the times of the socialist movement around Taisto Sinisalo in the 1970s when the Soviet Amur – Baikal railway line was built with the strength of the Komsomol youth to transport steel through Siberia. The play focuses on the middle-aged couple of theatre director Wimppa and writer Pena, their idealistic companions and their circle of university friends from the 70s as well as their children who are now the same age as they were during their common study days. In the structure of the play these two time levels overlap skilfully. The youngsters play not only themselves but also their parents at their own age. In direct action the youngsters wage war against society. They stop a train transporting nuclear waste to Russia and shoot a documentary of it. The play asks whose actions are / were justified. The warm humoured and witty play opens old wounds: conscience weighs heavy, the main characters question the ideals and morals of their youth, drink sparkling wine and wait for the Ingrian writer Djuna Orbenko, who was once denunciated and sent to Siberia. At the beginning of the 21st century May Day is celebrated with open doors at the family’s home in Helsinki. Old apple trees are felled, Wimppa and Pena finalise an opera about the socialist movement around Taisto Sinisalo and about idealised workers modelled in clay. Their visitors are a carpenter, a minister, a doctor educated in the former DDR and a documentary film director, all middle-aged and over the years all married to each other, as well as their children. Justice and the moral right to decide about your own or someone else’s life – these are the topics treated by the play. From the doctor’s, the minister’s, the film director’s and the writer’s point of view these topics are examined through their concrete actions: euthanasia, Stasi espionage and denunciation and anarchistic actions like cutting off the transport of nuclear waste or criticising one’s own socialist society by betraying a writer. The Baikal Children attempts to look at people’s political actions and their individual morals, to see and maybe to pardon in the words of the film director: “Justice does not ask for the punishment of the delinquent but for the victim to become visible.” Despite its serious topic The Baikal Children is ironic and enjoyably funny. (Tinfo)
Performed in 2002 at the Panta Théâtre, Caen in France.