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In short, this is an intelligent, fluent production of a fascinating, intelligent script.
Here’s hoping it gets picked up by more theatres and soon.
Watched over a decade later, while that impetus might be visible if you know the date, it is in no way obtrusive.
Michael’s London production (of, admittedly a different play – albeit one that, on the page, you could imagine receiving similarly sepulchral treatment) is the diametric opposite. This has the effect of focussing all the intense physical activity into a confined space and making it all the more jagged, looking like a box or wrestling ring at times, while at others reflecting the preoccupations of the text with islands, coastlines, and borders. It employs a recurring technique throughout where each scene opens with a variation on the line: “A man at a distance from two other men.” And begin with the three actors – in each scene, consistently playing: “Brother”, “One”, “Another” – narrating the place and their actions, imperceptibly slipping into *actual dialogue*, and sometimes out again at the end, or where necessary.Frenetic, energetic, and feeling almost relentlessly physical it takes the poise and deliberation of the script and makes it muscular as well as cerebral (movement – Sara Green). As such, it feels at once literary, novelistic, but also hugely familiar, particularly from the work of Martin Crimp. Were this just an exercise in style, it would already be a startlingly successful and original work.I first got to know of Lygre’s work through this show’s director, Kay Michael, when we both went to Sweden to see the première of his newest play Ingenting av mig, as research for a projected longer piece about Then Silence later in the year.In Stockholm I was struck by the shattering stillness of the production. The production is played on a small, noticeably raked stage (smart, effective, minimal design by Denisa Dumitrescu).
From this opening, the first scene’s torturing has the unmistakable ring of Pinter about it too, a kind of miniature Birthday Party. That it actually goes beyond that to real substance seems almost too generous.
Elsewhere, I was reminded of a bunch of other of our leading domestic (and other anglophone) writers. Dating from 2004, it feels reasonable to conjecture, with its torture opening scene, and its constant circling back to themes of nation, aggression, and invasion, that the recent invasion of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain (Norway apparently also contributed 20 soldiers) was a major inspiration.