FESTEN To 19 November.


by Thomas Vinterberg and Mogens Rukov adapted by Vlad Massaci.

Barbican Theatre (The Pit) Silk Street EC2Y 8DS To 19 November 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 243 0785.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 November.

Dysfunctional family plot stylishly explored.
The most memorable of the Danish Dogme films, whose directors denied themselves much of cinema’s technical apparatus, Thomas Vinterberg’s story of a family-gathering turning sour has attracted several stage directors. Bucharest’s Nottara Theatre provide a new angle on the piece – literally.

Whereas previous productions have spread the dining-table, where the crisis occurs, across their stage parallel to the audience, in the thrust-stage Pit the table runs from back to front. And a new perspective’s added by an onstage video-camera, recording in lengthy shots the reactions of some of the silent characters as revelations tumble out.

At first it’s Michael, with his explosive temper and agitated marriage, who seems likely to cause trouble – he’s only admitted if he promises not to. But it’s the apparent conformist Christian (Ion Grosu, broodingly intense) who quietly introduces a past secret that smashes Helge on the day his family has met to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Though interspersed with moments of loud or sudden action, the overall impact of Vlad Masacci’s production is one binding cast and audience, physically close in their rows, in the grip of shock – even audience members knowing the story are likely to be held by the characters’ reactions, the silent disbelief, the unspoken rejection, the realisation that something has been rotten in their corner of Denmark

Apart from the long-held screen images of characters absorbing the revelations, there’s the silent presence – marked-out by her informal clothes – of the dead sister, Linda. Her presence when she’s referred to, and smile when the truth comes out, increases the significance of what’s revealed, taking it beyond an individual’s personal reckoning.

Strongly performed throughout, Masacci’s production has a firm centre in Alexandru Repan’s silver-haired, neat-bearded Helge, the picture of respectable family seniority, whose ultimate physical degradation reflects the present tragedy his past actions have brought on him. Corneliu Dan Borcia’s deaf, forgetful Grandfather elides comedy and family irresponsibility while Catrinel Dumitrescu’s Else is notable among the women who find their lives knocked off-course.

Some elements of the film aren’t fully explored, but any trimming is fully justified by Massaci’s focus on its heart.

Helge: Alexandru Repan.
Else: Catrinel Dumitrescu.
Helmut Von Sachs: Emil Hossu.
Christian: Ion Grosu.
Helene: Ada Navrot.
Michael: Dan Bordeianu.
Grandmother: Camelia Zorlescu.
Grandfather: Corneliu Dan Borcia.
Kim: Gabriel Rauta.
Pia: Raluca Gheorghiu.
Lars: Lucian Ghimisi.
Linda: Cristina Paun.
Matte: Mihaela Subtirica.
Gbatokai: Daniel Popescu.
Michelle: Raluca Juganaru.
Frederick: Ionut Anghal.
Sara: Corins Dragomir.
Cameraman: Ci[prian Dulca.
Child: Eduard Epure.

Director: Vlad Massaci.
Designer: Stefan Caragiu.
Lighting: Constantin Ion.
Sound: Bogdan Gadala.
Music Director: Cristi Juncu.

2011-11-15 15:44:58

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