Michel is a typical Houellebecq character: about forty, a good income, looks a bit seedy, and has little hope left of enjoying an exciting life. He contents himself with meals for one, his daily television programmes, his work at the Ministry of Culture and the whores round the corner. Until, on a guided holiday, he meets Valérie, and finds her to be the ultimate sex partner. It actually involves a truly genuine feeling of love. To his amazement, Michel has to admit that he is happy. Elated by this realisation, he has the idea of exporting and exploiting his views on happiness. Together with Valérie, and with her boss Jean-Yves, he develops Eldorador Afrodite, a travel package that offers the experience of cheap exotic sex. It turns out to be an overwhelming success.
In Johan Simons’ view, the catastrophe that ends Houellebecq’s Platform is not a cynical final conclusion, because however much Valérie and Michel embody the bankruptcy of Western civilisation, they do experience something that few enjoy: genuine love. It is not without reason that we feel some sympathy for them when they themselves are affected by the disaster. Like Houellebecq, NTGent does not want to morally condemn Western man, but present his with a double picture: of both disgust and happiness. Just like the characters in Platform, we still have the chance of love, even if it is only – inevitably – immersed in the atmosphere of travel brochure romanticism.
After ten years, this production of Platform has lost none of its importance. On the contrary, as was demonstrated by a one-off revival in spring 2015. NTGent is putting Platform back on the bill, but by choosing a different, more diverse cast, adds a new component to the material. To achieve this, NTGent is joining forces with Action Zoo Humain. This Ghent theatre collective consists of performers and researchers with a variety of ethno-cultural backgrounds. AZH examines the phenomenon of super-diversity and the image of ethnic minorities in the Western world.
Again together with AZH, NTGent is also presenting a stage adaptation of Houellebecq’s latest novel, Submission, which can instinctively be read as a sequel to Platform. Submission – directed by Johan Simons and Chokri Ben Chikha – forms a diptych with Platform. Samen met AZH brengt NTGent ook een theaterbewerking van Houellebecqs laatste roman, Onderworpen, die onwillekeurig als een vervolg op Platform kan worden gelezen. Onderworpen – een regie van Johan Simons en Chokri Ben Chikha – vormt een tweeluik met Platform.