A man goes on a journey in search of love and returns to his village carrying death in the form of a plague-ridden rabbit. The village is ravaged by sickness, and the survivors lose their sense of right and wrong. The opposing values of civilization and barbarity balance on a knife's edge. From the novel by Torgny Lindgren and adapted to the stage by Theatre de Complicite.
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This book is about a medieval village in the far North of Sweden. In fact, it is the last village: beyond is nothing but wasteland. A flea from a pregnant rabbit brings the plague, and when its ravages are over, only six people are left alive. One of those people, in a crazed moment, committed a terrible act because he thought it would save him from the plague. Perhaps as a result of that, perhaps as a result of the decimation, the previous unquestioned natural order is upset, and nothing makes sense any more - no-one knows what is right and what is wrong, no-one can track the passage of time, and no-one can make everything return to normal.The focus of the story is on two of the surviving characters: Konik, who is troubled by the incomprehensibility of the new world, and Onde, who takes advantage of it. I think this was the key tension in the book - between believing that things are as they are, or that they should be as they should be. I say 'I think', because for a lot of the time I was reading this book I felt fairly confused. It was obvious that there was a lot of symbolism going on - there are repeated motifs (rabbits, for example, which I think symbolise vitality and also chaos) and the characters' behaviour is not very naturalistic. But I feel as if I picked up about a tenth of it. That made the book quite a slog for me. I managed to keep going in the hope that it would all become clear in the end, but it didn't, really.Recommended for: a reader who enjoys decoding symbolism (or perhaps more bluntly, someone who likes a challenge!)