Was lucky enough to get a taster of this Jon Fosse play at the Young Vic a couple of weeks ago at a dress rehearsal and I must admit that I was really looking forward to seeing it again.
I don't pretend to understand it fully or anywhere close. It is one of those plays that, like Waiting For Godot, I can see A-Level English students picking over and debating. There is much to chew over.
Essentially it is about two men going on a voyage together. Or is it? The two characters The One (Tom Brooke) and The Other (Jack Laskey) could be two sides of the same person. Discuss. See that is what I like about it.
You can't even say that this is a piece about words rather than action because French director Patrice Chereau kicks off with a beautiful bit of physical theatre. The Other picks up the partially dressed and soaking wet The One, cradling his limp, un-responding body until his weight gets too much. He then puts him gently down and, all the time supporting him, dresses him in a jumper from his own back.
The One has just tried or maybe succeeded in committing suicide.
The Other questions The One on his actions and a despondent disconnect is revealed:
"Everything's so visible
everything can be seen
the things that people hide with what they say
the things maybe they don't even know about themselves
I see all of that"
You get a sense of irony that needs further exploration. The two then embark on a voyage together, their vessel lifting almost magically from out of the flooded stage. Yes, the Young Vic stage is flooded (see pics below if you don't believe me).
It seems, to me anyway, to be at once a celebration of the simple things that make us feel alive but also an examination of the human struggle of expression, understanding and simply being. Both beautiful, haunting and moving the piece comes full circle, ending almost as it begins.
Plaudits to Messrs Laskey and Brooke for their fine performances particularly in damp and difficult conditions. (I do wonder how long it took them to get their sea legs on the moving platform that represents their boat and how cold the water is - just me then?)
This is marmite theatre as the variety of reviews on UpTheWestEnd.com attest. You will either love it or hate it. The saving grace, if isn't your thing, is that it is only 70 minutes long. I loved it and I'm giving it 4 stars out of five.
It's on at the Young Vic until May 21.
Thought this might be tricky with there only being two cast members but it turns out that Jack Laskey was in Hamlet with Mr W at the Old Vic. He played the roles of Cornellius and Reynaldo.