adapted from L’Avventura, La Notte, L’Eclisse by Michelangelo Antonioni by Bart Van den Eynde.

Barbican Theatre Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 5 February 2011.
Runs 2hr 20min One (sort-of) interval.

TICKETS: 0845 120 7550.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 February.

Counterpoint between stage and screen is the point in depiction of vacuous lives.
Back at the Barbican with their complex technology and minimal intervals (a quick ten-minutes, with severe notice the bar’s closed and musical entertainment for those staying in their seats), Amsterdam’s adventurous Toneelgroep bring something less than 2009’s Shakespearean Roman Tragedies.

I haven’t seen the early Michelangelo Antonioni films which underlie this piece, so it’s only my prejudice Toneelgroep confirms: despite their stylishness and claims to moral dissection, these are tedious tales of privileged people worrying about their emotional lives in a vacuum that might be filled by a hard day’s work. The only evidence of any occupation here is a high-salary offer between friends.

It’s this vacuity the production points to in its contrast between stage and screen. As in his Shakespeare, director Ivo van Hove places action in obscure areas of the stage, with actors replicated large on a stage-width screen overhead. Unlike Roman Tragedies the audience stays in the auditorium, but has to search-out which figures on stage are the ones speaking on screen. Sometimes, the actors depicted are out of sight.

The screen adds a realistic background when on stage the actors stand amid empty space. Or what’s clearly blank on stage appears realistic on screen – a short ladder section and smooth surface come over as a swimming-pool. Back-projection creates L’Avventura’s floating boat. Characters standing far apart seem together.

Camera selection alters focus: we would watch La Notte’s sick Tommaso, in pain as he talks in his wheelchair to Giovanni, while Lidia stands by. Except, the screen just shows Lidia, and every detail of her discomfort; characters become emotionally naked without environmental add-ons.

It adds starkness to the sexual moments on a white double-bed with its white wall background, where cameras on track or boom pick up direct contact. They also pick up the (intended or not) comedy of passionate embraces by people with microphones snaking round their faces, looking ready to engage in their own little duel when the kissing has to start.

Portentous images of stock-exchange bustle and climatic disasters to doom-laden Wagner are forceful but over-extended. The onstage band lightens things up a necessary bit.

Tommaso/Anna’s Father: Hugo Koolschijn.
Lidia: Marieke Heebink.
Giovanni: Hans Kesting.
Vittoria: Halina Reijn.
Riccardo: Eelco Smits.
Anna/Giulia: Janni Goslinga.
Claudia: Hadewych Minis.
Sandro: Roeland Fernhout.
Raimondo: Alwin Pulinckx.
Corrado: Leon Voorberg.
Patrizia: Frieda Pittoors.
Piero: Jacob Derwig.
Ettore: Fred Goessens.
Vittoria’s Mother: Celia Nufaar.
Valentina: Charlie Chan Dagelet.
The Trumpack! Musicians: Eef van Breen, Frans van Geest, Ben Schroder, Michael Varekamp, Carl Wolff.

Director: Ivo van Hove.
Designer/Lighting: Jan Versweyveld.
Sound: Roeland Fernhout.
Music: Eef van Breen.
Video: Tal Yarden.
Costume: An D’Huys.
Assistant director: Matthias Mooij.
Assistant designers: Roel van Berckelaer, Ramon Huijbrechts.

2011-02-03 10:59:22

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