ANNA ISAAC finds a play which discusses some controversial issues with flair and sensitivity.
ADC, 6th-10th March, 7.45pm, £6-10
Directed by Niall Wilson
I was enticed by a program that showed some playful and clever production work. It was disguised as a menu welcoming me to the 60th birthday party that the play depicts and it set the perfect tone for domestic drama.
Sadly it was a sluggish opening, too slow for my liking. A play which has a striking but ultimately very simple plot would have benefitted from more energy from the off. Likewise, I felt that at times the curtains and set changes held up the narrative.
Using the full depth of the ADC lost the claustrophobia that lends itself to family drama; a tight backdrop behind the table would have forced the action closer to the audience and increased their discomfort for the better. But the performance matured as it went on, and by the second half I was sold on the show.
I could have kissed Ed Eustace as Poul for his delivery (of admittedly great lines). It was full of vigour and humour in a play that needs it. Some might find it jarring, particularly in what was for the most part a naturalistic production, but I found it lifted the audience, just enough for the painful downs to take full effect.
Will Attenborough, as Christian, played silence to its best advantage, stilling the room and the theatre beyond any point of comfort, in order to drive home the overpowering anger as the events of the night went on. (I’m sorry for sneezing at one point, by the way.)
Laura Profumo (Mette) and Rosalie Hayes (Pia), brought the necessary heady undertones of adult sexuality to the performance. Profumo acted throughout with admirable consistency and poise, and most importantly made a believable mother. Luka Krsljanin (Michael) matched her well and developed his tone and macho physicality to great effect, particularly for the final scene.
A word or two must be said for Ben Kavanagh as Helge. His was a very impressive performance – Kavanagh gave it his all, and – without giving too much away – his performance was one of such conviction that by the final scene whether one hated him or not became irrelevant.
A powerful and genuinely moving production which explores some painful issues in a dramatic yet sensitive light, Festen seems slated to be a sell-out show. Well-deserved, I say.