Last Thursday, after the première of Paradijsvogels (Birds of Paradise), a new play by the Dutch theatre troupe Op Hoop van Zege, I had the pleasure of joining the director and a psychologist for a public conversation about the new play. This play opens with a monologue in which a character - who remains nameless, like all other characters - reflects on how long it takes to mourn. What he is mourning is not quite clear, but as the play progresses, all of the different characters are shown as haunted by past they did not consciously experience and the future possibilities that they are afraid to pursue in case they should fail. Instead, they focus obsessively on the present, dwelling on useless bits of knowledge (about peanuts, for instance, which are strewn across the stage) and engaging in various 'mindful' acts, such as yoga. The line between parody and realism is thin (perhaps too thin), but the play does raise important questions about the ways in which the intensity of the roles we perform in our daily live hinder us in finding our authentic selves. By including a camera on the stage, where the characters may either make fun of their failure or confess (and the actors are to be congratulated on doing so in a moving and touching way), and by having these confessions projected on the background, the play includes a mise en abyme, which breaks down the wall between the audience and the play, and which thus emphasises the importance of the audience as a participant in the performance. The play made me wonder if it indeed achieves the kind of catharsis, or purification, that is commonly ascribed to tragedy - and, in particular, whose catharsis: the actors', or the viewers'?