MY EYES WENT DARK
by Matthew Wilkinson.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Arms 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 19 September 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 30 September.
Impressive but near-impenetrable at first sight.
Newspapers reported the facts: an architect from Ossetia whose wife and children died in a plane collision focuses blames on the air-traffic controller. The law says it was a no-blame accident, so the architect, Koslov, kills the man he holds responsible. He’s imprisoned but hailed a hero by the public.
Playwright Matthew Wilkinson delves beneath the facts to investigate the consciousness of Koslov, the one character continuously present. Cal MacAninch gives an unremitting portrayal of a man who rejects any opposition to his views – or his need for revenge.
His performance is complemented by Thusitha Jayasundera’s well-controlled representations of everyone who comes into contact with him, personal and professional voices whose sympathy or argument cannot halt Koslov’s determined, savage revenge.
None of this violence is shown; the action happens in Koslov’s mind and he can’t remember the killing. The nearest to physical action comes when he throws his victim’s daughter out of a party celebrating his latest architectural project. Ironically, for the action finally loops back to Koslov accepting a major commission involving him spending three years abroad. Visiting him there put his family on the fatal flight. His wife wasn’t keen he go; guilt might form part of Koslov’s emotional complexity.
His script makes clear Wilkinson wants a minimalist production. Unsurprisingly, as director, he provides one, aptly focusing on mindset rather than external events. But the basic staging of two chairs opposed across the traverse stage, backed by batteries of light, occasionally used for stark impact by Elliot Griggs’ lighting-plot, along with engine roars from Max Pappenheim’s sound-track, leaves the audience to do a lot of work as the action leaps around and Jayasundera has to represent multiple characters, some of whom reappear, with no support from costume or props.
At times the action seems like a rogue exam question where no solution can be reached, while slow, enigmatic scenes early on make involvement harder. Later, action increases while the script offers more contextual clues. But a director who didn’t know the author’s mind from the off might have brought a touch more clarity to an otherwise impressive piece.
Nikolai Koslov: Cal MacAninch.
Marya Koslov/Geisinger/Photographer/Co-ordinator/Lizka/Katya/Weitner/Yana/Mrs Olsen/Eva/Helena: Thusitha Jayasundera.
Director: Matthew Wilkinson.
Designer: Bethany Wells.
Lighting: Elliot Griggs.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.