All That Is Wrong is the final installment in Belgian company Ontroerend Goed’s trilogy exploring adolescence. The previous installment, Teenage Riot, was a loud, manic, raucous of a show powered by anger and frustration. All That Is Wrong takes a different approach as Koba (Anna Jakoba Ryckewaert), at the age of eighteen, silently tries to sort through all that is wrong in the world.
The audience watches as she creates a huge mind-map on the stage, chalking ‘I’ in the centre and expanding out, illuminating parts of her world – her family, her insecurities, her fears and confusions – everything interlinking, becoming more and more elaborate as the play progresses.
Koba’s presence onstage is commanding yet subtle; she writes upside-down, chalk rubs off on her jeans, she pauses frequently to assess the mind map’s progress, and she descends into bouts of furious scribbling. Her onstage ‘helper’, played by Zach Hatch, makes suggestions, plays music and radio broadcasts, and – most importantly – videos the mind-map as it progresses.
The use of projectors and video in this play is what makes it immersive and visceral. Koba’s writing is filmed and appears behind her as it is happening Eventually, the mind-map spills from the floor onto the walls, and the audience has no-where to hide. Like Koba, we are confronted with all the problems – interlocking, incessant and overwhelming – that we cannot possibly fix..
The sound design (by the fantastic Jasper Taelemans) echoes Koba’s sense of frantic unease: often, she writes in silence, but there is also loud music, overlapping news broadcasts and escalating manic sounds, which makes the play even more evocative. The dialogue between the sound design and the onstage action is what makes this piece so confronting: the tension Koba feels as she tries to navigate the divide between youth and adulthood is palpable and cannot be ignored.
The piece ends with Koba taking a photo of her mind-map and giving it to Zach to print out. Upon exiting the theatre, the slightly stunned audience members are handed photocopies of the mind-map they have just seen created. The confusion, anger, fear and grief that poured into the theatre is now in the hands of the audience members as they are literally left holding all that is wrong.