I AM THE WIND
by Jon Fosse translated by Simon Stephens from a literal translation by øystein Ulsberg Brager.
Young Vic Theatre 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 21 May 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-description 21 May 2.30pm.
BSL Signed ‘off’day<
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Carole Woddis 11 May.
Inventive virtuosity and poetic insight.
Performances are getting shorter again. This multi-European collaboration – French/Austrian/Spanish/Greek – between Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, French director Patrice Chéreau and English translator Simon Stephens, lasts just over the hour. But what an hour.
Imagine Ibsen, Beckett and Sarah Kane rolled into one and you’ll get some idea of the philosophical darkness at work here. This is European theatre at its most abstract, an existential meditation on life, death, fear, self-fulfilling prophesies and survival.
In different hands, its bleakness might also have released the gallows humour Kane chiselled out of her darkest thoughts. Instead, Chéreau’s solemn but extraordinary staging offers something at once more cauterised, lyrical and theatrically explosive, at several points the stage erupting like a giant sea monster.
The sea, ever our most potent symbol of a journey both into ourselves and the universe we inhabit, here becomes both imagined and real. Against a giant, grey screen, on a barren lagoon, lapped by water and edged in tide marks, a young man enters bearing the dripping torso of another. He seems dead. Gradually the dripping figure takes on more movement.
For the next hour, Tom Brooke’s gaunt, skeletal `other’ – they have no names – will verbally, mentally and emotionally `test’ Jack Laskey’s humane carer character with a turbulent sea of questions and slithery answers on a stage transformed into a ducking boat as if caught in heavy weather.
If this is beginning to sound pretentious, well it does come perilously close. But there is something about Chéreau’s staging that catches you by the throat, not to mention the power of the interdependency that flows between Brooke and Laskey.
Towards the end does Fosse’s obsessive, rhetorical vision does begin to irk. But as if Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, had been shorn of its UK-political coating, this visceral therapy session that also touches on the unreliability of words, male relationships, reality and the imagined nature of theatre itself is ultimately carried to a triumphant conclusion by the sheer brilliance of Brooke and Laskey, the clarity of Stephens’ English translation and the luminous physical glow with which Chéreau turns Fosse’s suicidal vision into release and an endorsement of life.
The One: Tom Brooke.
The Other: Jack Laskey.
Director: Patrice Chéreau.
Designer: Richard Peduzzi.
Light: Dominique Bruguière.
Music: Éric Neveux.
Costumes: Caroline de Vivaise.
Assistant director: Peter Cant.
Assistant lighting: François Thouret.
Water Consultants: Water Sculptures.
A Young Vic/ Théâtre de la Ville-Paris co-production co-commissioned by Wiener Festwochen (Vienna), les Nuits de Fourvière/ Département du Rhône, Festival Grec 2011 – Barcelona and Festival d’Avignon.
First performance of this production I Am The Wind at the Young Vic 3 May 2011.