a new adaptation by Carol Ann Duffy.
Olivier Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 30 August. 2015.
7.30pm; mats 2.00pm, see website for mats, Thurs, Sats, Tues, Sun 2.30pm
Runs: 1hr 45min No interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 30 April.
Impressive and spot-on.
The opening moments of Rufus Norris’s Everyman feels very much like a follow-on to his Mumbai based Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Bhangra music blares out as a group of party-goers sashay onto the Olivier stage. Previously, Kate Duchêne’s Mrs Mop has been quietly working back and forth. Thus the production’s two book-ends: God as a charlady, cleaning up after human mess; contemporary hedonism in all its selfie grossness.
Norris’s production in this new version by Carol Ann Duffy is nothing if not of its time. Back projections, digital light shows, aerial descents (Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Everyman), we’re thrown into modern life with a vengeance with a 40th birthday party orgy of drink and drugs that goes on just a shade too long. Duffy’s text, too, often sets a coarse, obscenity filled tone but only as a reflection of what you can see and hear any day in British bars and pubs.
This, after all, is a morality play about Everyman – you and me, `who’s next?’ says Dermot Crowley’s winking Death in the closing lines – being forced to look into himself (ourselves) and make a reckoning of what this brief life on earth amounts to, a conscience pricker by any other name.
We’re destroying the earth. We’re selfish, envious, greedy, lust-filled, you name it. Duffy is particularly strong on mankind’s destruction of the planet. Norris conjures up a terrifying `immersive’ tsunami courtesy of a giant fan and video back projections. It would make the angels weep. Everyman, seeking companions to vouch for him is indeed reduced to tears. Visiting Friends, Family, Goods (a marvellous moment of gold-laméd shop dummies representing consumerism at its most garish), he finds them all wanting. Only Knowledge all but stays the course.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, as you might expect, brings stature and pathos to this journey of attempted redemption. In a godless, secular world, how do you turn a text born of belief into something meaningful to today? It may be ugly – as Duchêne’s impressive Godhead notes, `how all mankind grows worse from year to year’ – and this production reflects it. But I fancy Norris and Duffy are right on the button.
Everyman: Chiwetel Ejiofor.
God/Good Deeds: Kate Duchêne.
Death: Dermot Crowley.
Sound: Paul Bullion.
Passion: Adam Burton.
Vanity: Amy Griffiths.
Strength: Nick Holder.
Smell: Nicholas Karimi.
Sensuality: Joshua Lacey.
Conscience: Coral Messam.
Touch: Amanda Minihan.
Taste: Itxaso Moreno.
Sight: Ira Mandela Siobhan.
Discretion: Kiruna Stamell.
Insecurity: Clemmie Sveaas.
Mother: Sharon D Clarke.
Father: Philip Martin Brown.
Sister: Michelle Butterly.
Goods: Adam Burton, Amy Griffiths, Joshua Lacey, Clemmie Sveaas.
Knowledge: Penny Layden.
Everyboy: Jeshaiah Murray/Tumo Reetsang/Joshua Tikare.
Ensemble: Stephen Aintree.
Musicians: William Lyons (Shawm, recorder, bagpipes, racket, crumhorn, harmonium, organ; Nicholas Perry (shawm, recorder, bagpipes, racket, crumhorn, curtal, hurdy gurdy); Arngeir Hauksson (lute, theorbo, gittern); Louise Morgan (percussion, dulcimer); Sola Akingbola (percussion)
Director: Rufus Norris.
Designer: Ian McNeil.
Lighting: Paul Anderson.
Sound: Paul Arditti.
Music: William Lyons.
Video: Tal Rosner.
Vocal Music Director: Stephen Higgins.
Company Voice work: Kate Godfrey.
Choreographer/Movement: Javier De Frutos.
Costume: Nicky Gillibrand.
Staff director: Emily Lim.
First performance of this production of Everyman in the Olivier Theatre 29 April 2015.