Thursday, November 27, 2014

As November leaves drop like dandruff...

"Writing depends on the state of one's mind," said Eugene Ionesco, and his 1962 play Exit the King had as starting-point "a feeling of anguish. To learn to die seems to me the most importing thing we can do, since we're all of us dying..."  The Theatre Royal Bath production currently showing at Ustinov studio uses a new translation by Jeremy Sans 'winnowed' for a modern audience into an awesome script that impressively combines deep awareness of the anguish & absurdity of human aspirations with moments of comedy, colloquialism, and sheer poetry (the line above about leaves dropping like dandruff is his.)  It's a dazzling production of a bizarre play, a mix of psychological study and Tim Burton-esque fairytale.  In mildewed grey throne-room  ~ terrific set design ~ we watch in apparent real-time as the dying king rants, cajoles and refuses to 'go gently into that good night'.  He's surrounded by the only relics of his long reign: a guard, a servant, his doctor and his two queens: domineering dark-clad Marguerite and loving but shallow Marie.
Inspired costume design contributes to the total rabbit-hole reality experience: everyone is decked in self-parodying style like crazy tarot cards, both queens Disney-glamorous. All the cast are superb with Alun Armstrong as King Berenger and Siobhan Redmond as Queen Marguerite superlative. Lighting & sound also deserve praise, and Laurence Boswell's direction is brilliant.  This is an extraordinary production: go, prepare to be dazed and confused but mesmorised and moved too.  Images by Simon Annand ~ I'd have preferred one of fabulous Siobhan Redmond that didn't look so photoshopped actually, her face is rivetingly expressive.

~ back to the dropping November leaves, ending with an image from yesterday's walk around Tisbury, russet beeches against a misty skyline.  You're welcome. 

No comments: