Posted by Seanna van Helten
21. Nov, 2012
In the cavern of the Collingwood Underground Arts Park, Public Front and Turtle Lab present the Australian premiere of I am the Wind by celebrated Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse.
With an intact scenario confined to two players, the 70-minute drama unfolds with the rhythm and logic of a poem. We meet two men who have set sail in a fragile boat. One (Shaun Goss) seems eager to cast further adrift, while the other (Luke Mulquiney) is wary of his companion’s almost threatening melancholy, and the way he keeps nudging their vessel away from the safety of the shoreline.
The characters are never named (the program lists them as ‘The One’ and ‘The Other’), nor is their location defined. What becomes the focus instead is the uneasy relationship between the two as they chart their voyage, riding the extended metaphor of the ocean as a nihilistic abyss, into which ‘The One’ cannot help but peer.
In Zoë Rouse’s echoing set design, concrete stands in for water. A single rope snakes along the ground and outlines the edge of the sailors’ boat, at once tethering the men to land as well as illustrating the flimsy line separating them from nothingness.
This clever design supplies some dramatic stage pictures, such as when ‘The One’ goads ‘The Other’, early in the piece, to stand at the boat’s stern, teetering on the unsteady line, unaware of his fellow sailor’s ultimate endgame.
The language (this English version by Simon Stephens premiered at London’s Young Vic theatre in 2011) is dense: it illustrates only the hermetic world of these characters as they exist right at this moment, rarely gesturing to any external context.
Fosse is one of Europe’s most performed dramatists and yet he remains a comparatively obscure figure on English-speaking stages. The British press, for example, has often derided his seemingly impenetrable text. It is fair to say that Fosse’s non-realist style is not common in English-speaking drama, but it doesn’t seem fair to criticise his writing on the same criteria as one would, say, a realist play.
Fans of Fosse will be keen to see his rarely-performed-here work as it is interpreted by young Australian theatremakers; for others, the production is a worthy introduction to Fosse’s unique style.
I am the Wind is playing at Collingwood Underground Arts Park, until December 1.
For more information and tickets visit: iamthewind.com.au
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