THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (adapted by Andrea Koschwitz and Jan Bosse).
Lakeside Arts Centre: Tkts 0115 846 7777
Runs: 2h 40m: one interval, till 28th May.
Review: Alan Geary: 27th May 2011.

Definitely werther look.

A major argument, even if it’s not a killer reason, for seeing this play, part of Nottingham’s European Arts and Theatre Festival (Neat11), is that they hand you a free programme as you go in. Mind you, it is in Norwegian. Then you get a tasty, and equally free, heart-shaped waffle to eat.

Additionally, there is of course the play itself, in Norwegian and a free adaptation of the eighteenth-century German novel by Goethe. From Det Norske Teatret and directed by the prize-winning Jonas Corell Petersen, it happens to be fascinating and, more importantly, entertaining. Det Norske has an astonishingly informal approach: “If there’s anything you don’t understand just ask”.

Werther (Torbjørn Eriksen), an angst-ridden youth in the true tradition of German Romanticism, falls for the lovely Charlotte (Marie Blokhus). Trouble is, she’s already married; to worthy but stodgy Albert (Tobias Santelmann). Eventually Werther goes off into the woods and shoots himself.

This doesn’t sound like rollicking mirth but at times it’s actually very funny. And it’s full of all the motifs one associates with romanticism: a lovelorn youth, a linden tree, the woods, and so on.

The actors are accomplished, and not just at acting. Albert plays the guitar a lot, and all three perform a piano trio, something from U2, each seated at a piano of his/her own. An arresting scene is where Charlotte talks at length whilst skiing in the air. But the surprise of the evening is a tastefully done, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, entirely nude scene where Werther and Charlotte frolic like children in a stream.

This is a sometimes demanding play, presented in a startlingly informal way: at times you hardly know the actors are acting. It’s meta-theatrical too – at one point Werther begs Charlotte’s pardon and she points up at the English surtitles to explain – and the cast relate to the audience a lot.

As it stands this is a bit over-long, but it’s definitely werther look.

Werther: Torbjørn Eriksen.
Charlotte: Marie Blokhus.
Albert: Tobias Santelmann.

Director: Jonas Corell Petersen.
Designer/Costumes: Na Damerell.
Lighting: Per Willy Linholm.

2011-06-02 19:48:07

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