Review: The Nest, Young Vic

“Do you want for anything?
Just my husband.”

Franz Xaver Kroetz has the distinction of being the most often produced contemporary playwright in his native Germany but perhaps unsurprisingly given latent Brexit feelings, he’s little performed in the UK. Director Ian Rickson is looking to address that with Conor McPherson’s adaptation of The Nest, first seen in Belfast and now playing at the Young Vic, with music provided by the estimable PJ Harvey. 

It’s a sparsely intense two-hander starring Caoilfhionn Dunne and Laurence Kinlan as Martha and Kurt, a young Irish couple starting a family and wondering how they’ll cope with the financial strain of it. He’s a lorry driver doing as much overtime as he can and not one to look a gift horse of spoiled wine in the mouth when some off-the-books work turns up and oops, that’s about it as far as the plot goes! I did say it was sparse…

There’s more to it obviously, in the way that the consequences of Kurt’s actions unforeseeably impact on their lives but y’know, spoilers, and what emerges most impressive in The Nest is the meticulous precision of Rickson’s production. He allows long stretches of silence to play out, Harvey’s soundscape broods magnificently, and the acting is pitch-perfect as the couple claw to keep themselves from poverty even as moral implications corrode away their convictions as the scope of the writing turns political to address environmental concerns as well as working conditions. I don’t know if this is the play to convert us to the ways of Kroetz but the chance to see an actor as fine as Dunne up close and personal is not one to be missed.

Running time: 100 minutes (without interval)
Photo: David Sandison

Booking until 26th November

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