UK Festival Exclusive: THE RETURNING by Fredrik Brattberg

at Backwell Festival, Somerset

Among its line-up of literature, food and music events, the ever-eclectic one-day Backwell Festival features a Rehearsed Reading of Norwegian playwright Fredrik Brattberg’s Ibsen Award-winning blackly comic THE RETURNING.


Performed by Presence Theatre, the play opens with two parents mourning the loss of their son – until he reappears without explanation on the doorstep. Everyday family life resumes, but as he disappears a second time, and then a third, their sorrow and relief turns to frustration and anger as the tone of the play swings between tragedy and farce.

Translated by Henning Hegland, The Returning is a poignant and effective dramatisation of the grieving process, with its repetitions and reversals, laying bare the tensions between everyday mundanity and the unpredictable flow of human emotion as the cycle of mourning begins again and again.

Born in Porsgrunn in 1978, and debuted as a playwright at Chateau Neuf in 2008 with the play Det banker, Amadeus, Brattberg’s work has been performed in various theatres in Norway, including the National Theatre, House of Drama and the Norwegian Drama Festival. His plays have been translated into seveal languages and has been listed in Norway, France, Denmark, Indonesia and New York.

Brattberg is also a composer, having studied with Wolfgang Plagge and written a broad range of choral, operatic, chamber and orchestral music that has been performed worldwide. His plays frequently follow the same principles of musical composition – evident on the rhythms, repetitions and intensity of The Returning’s dialogue.

Taking place in Backwell’s literature tent, the reading is directed by Simon Usher, who has previously directed major productions for the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court and many more.

It promises to be harrowing and hilarious by turns – and a thought-provoking festival highlight.


Backwell Festival, The Literature Tent, Grounds of Backwell Junior School

Blackwell BS48 3NG



Saturday 11th July at 5.45 pm

Website and tickets

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