Grzegorz Jarzyna, Festen

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

A spotlight. A man sitting, looking – at us, at his past… a long silence. Then a piano begins to sound. Two or three minutes before we hear a word. A powerful opening that reminds me of Maly Theatre or Pina Bausch in its mixture of image-silence-sound. These echoes continue for the next fifteen minutes or so as the stage picture unfolds with a sense of pacing, of a heightened choreography of movement, of patterns across space, of figures in space.

But this beautiful, bold theatricality is not sustained; the piece pales against such comparisons. The music stops being a soundtrack, becoming merely atmospheric spot effects. The movement and patterning cannot conceal the lack of ensemble in the acting, the acting also feeling uncommitted or remaining on the surface of the many layers of psycho-history that the story unpeels, lacking the raw power required.

The overlapping and interweaving scenes and plot lines become messy in the unfocused blocking of locations in the stage space. Both blocking and acting remain a non-confronting social realism rather than extending and deepening the stage pictures. Nudity and sexual encounters become an embarrassing coyness.

By the end, the production fails to command and control space, fails to bring together the many lines of the performance score it raises. It remains trapped by the film (of the same name) rather than being a translation of the film into the uniqueness of the theatrical space. Whilst the drama does have the echoes of Chekhov, etc, that other reviewers discern, the odd moment of introspection or metaphor does not displace the deeper failings of the piece as non-total theatre.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 29