Review: La Musica, Young Vic

“We should talk because we haven’t anything else to do”

It came as little surprise, after leaving La Musica at the Young Vic, to discover Jeff James has worked with Ivo van Hove as Assistant Director on A View From The Bridge and Antigone. van Hove’s influence is thrillingly palpable on this two-hander as it has clearly encouraged James to explore the representation of space and how it can be broken free from a traditionally naturalistic (perhaps British) style to something more expressionistic, European even.

That he achieves in two strikingly different ways in this adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ play, translated by Barbara Bray, which is itself split into two. For the first part, the actors (Sam Troughton and Emily Barclay) are sat high to the right on a platform in the corner of the Maria studio in front of two cameras, their backs to the audience, two large screens dominating the space we look at. And in intense, extreme close-up, this divorcing couple lay bare the tatters of their relationship. Continue reading “Review: La Musica, Young Vic”

Review: Three Sisters, Young Vic

“It’s like a nail being hammered in my head”

Back when the Young Vic announced their forthcoming shows as being A Doll’s House and Three Sisters, I was a little surprised at how safe the programming seemed, on the surface at least. For as it turned out, Ibsen was revitalised by Simon Stephens to stunning effect in one of the shows of the year so far and so expectations were high for Chekhov’s turn, adapted and directed by Benedict Andrews, the Australian auteur whose Cate Blanchett-starring Big and Small proved to be somewhat divisive.

And this production, set in an abstract modern day, also seems set to provoke strong opinion. From Helen Rappaport’s literal translation, Andrews has thoroughly modernised the language of this story of three young women trapped in a stultifying provincial Russian town, dreaming of heady love affairs and escaping to the Moscow of their childhoods yet unable to fully wrest control of their lives from the cruel twists of fate. But dislocating the play from the social and economic context in which Chekhov conceived it seriously undermines a central aspect of the drama.  Continue reading “Review: Three Sisters, Young Vic”