On Wednesday night my mum and I headed to theatre. Normally it’s my mum who picks the shows we’re going to see, but this time it was my pick. A friend of mine invited me to some “alternative” play and for once I said I’d come. So that’s how I came about to After Fredrik (Efter Fredrik in original, Po Fredrikovi in Czech translation)
The play is a monodrama, meaning there’s only one actor throughout the whole play. The basic story of the play is about a twenty-something year old Johan, who is like most of his peers. He’s into sports, he likes going out with his friends, and he dates girls. But one night, when Johan is celebrating his 21st birthday, he meets Fredrik, and his whole world turns. Suddenly Johan finds himself madly in love with Fredrik, they start dating and one day Fredrik suggests moving in together, but Johan will have to tell his parents that he’s gay. Johan goes and tells his parents, they meet Fredrik and the two of them do move in together, and eventually they get engaged. It seems like a fairytale, but not for long. HIV finds its way to their relationship, and tears it apart. In the second half of this eighty minute play Johan finds himself HIV positive and back in his parents’ house, attending an HIV positive support group. Johan feels like Fredrik killed him, giving him a death sentence. In mid-twenties Johan is done with life, seemingly he has nowhere to go. It is a story about love, life and the inevitable, death.
Written by a Swedish dramatist Mattias Brunn back in like 2005, the play had a huge success in Sweden and premiered in Prague in 2011 starring Ivan Lupták. His performance is truly breathtaking. This today 29 year old Kladno born actor gave Johan so much energy and emotion it’s hard to believe that he’s not telling his life story.
The play gave me so many topics to think about, the obvious ones are life and death, but it had me thinking more about living but not being alive. Johan died the moment he picked up the phone and heard a voice on the other end say “I’m sorry, but you are HIV positive”, the fact that one day he will die, killed him and from that moment on he was only surviving not living. In the end of the play it’s Fredrik who dies, and AIDS has nothing to do with it. When Fredrik found out that he infected Johan, the love of his life, he couldn’t live with himself. After trying to reach out to Johan for over a month, calling him, texting him, even writing him letters, and getting no answer, one day he decided to end it. He jumps off of a balcony on the fifth floor. The last phone call of the play informs Johan of Fredrik’s death and in that moment Johan realizes it was him who killed Fredrik. After that Johan starts living again, getting out of his shell and embracing the possibilities of his time left in this lifetime.
The play is put together so that no one is the villain nor the victim. Fredrik did truly love Johan and was faithful to him, getting infected in his last relationship. Each of them reacted differently to the same news, Fredrik shut down, because he realized that he signed the death warrant for the love of his life, Johan felt like the victim in the story, but later on found out that it was only an “accident”, if you can call it that. I was afraid that Fredrik would turn out to be this big ass jerk, but he didn’t, which I really appreciate. The story was real, Fredrik and Johan, and all the other characters, Johan’s parents, Hanna, Johan’s friend from the support group, they were all real, you kind of want to meet them in the end. Even though they ended up being HIV positive, I’d say that Fredrik and Johan are some kind of relationship goals.
Pictures downloaded from the official site of the play.
This is the pamphlet for the play, that makes sure that no more people get the results HIV positive.