Fanny & Alexander, Romeo and Juliet - Et Ultra

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

Italian theatre group Fanny and Alexander promised what would be an eloquent and fascinating physical performance mixing genres from childhood fantasy and myth to create a work of love, beauty, grief and finally catharsis.

We got elements of Romeo and Juliet presented as if through the choking mists of a nightmare. The show was an intellectual exploration in costumed 3D of the notion of impossible love, which for me was a one-dimensional orgy of relentless submersion into angst and darkness.

The show is performed by a cast of seven behind a screen that holds shadows and reflections. It was hard, even irritating to view – let alone listen to. I could make out an agonising, thrashing, stomping Juliet throwing a red-gloved tantrum. Could hear demented laughter, much groaning, despairing and amplified whispering. Found it hard to focus on what was happening, like being in an underground car park overhearing treacherous conspiracies in Italian with torch-lights flashing. I had the feeling they were having a powerful time on their side of the screen and we were obscured from the potency of the experience.

After half an hour of this, and checking in with the surtitles to get a grasp on what I might be missing, really needed to know when they would cheer up. Where was the delight, innocence, play and pleasure? Mirrors behind the screen were to symbolise liquid light, a playground, yet all they reflected were more gloom and despair. The experience was shrouded in relentless howling angst. Very theatrical angst that didn't reach through the screen to touch me.

All this frenzy seemed a dressed-up exploration of the notion and desperation of impossible love, with the relentless despair reflected in multiplicity until it became a vacuum of monotonous angst. A gilded spectacle, glimpsed through a screen. The experience was as riveting as sitting in a dentist's waiting room for an hour and equally as gruelling,

A concept made theatrical that left me puzzled yet ultimately cold.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 24