Interiors is one of the most daring and original theatre productions I have ever seen. Created by Glasgow-based Vanishing Point, it is a partnership with both the Traverse and the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, meaning that a lot of creative talent has gone into this piece. With so much artistic input, it could either have been an egotistical disaster or a marriage for something wonderful. Thankfully it proves to be the latter.
The production takes its lead from a Scandinavian play called Interior. In it, a man is presented with the task of delivering news about the death of a daughter to a family. He watches the family in their home, happy and unknowing of the tragic news to come.
Here we are presented with a dinner party. We see a fully furnished living room that is encased at the front with glass, meaning that we will never hear a word said. We are invited to watch the party and observe behaviour that even the most realistic of productions would shy away from. We are also given commentary from a female voice. That voice, along with a soundscape that includes wind and music, both original and familiar, will be the only thing one hears throughout the performance.
By removing the characters’ dialogue, the audience is forced to pay greater attention to detail and mannerisms, resulting in each character appearing far more complex, and vulnerable, than most performances I’ve seen on stage. It is clear as to what is going on, who each of these characters are and what they want.
That the action looks completely believable, as if one were peeking through a neighbour’s window, and yet follows a logical progression of events is down to sharp direction and a clear script. The play was devised in workshops, and its story and text are credited to the Company, but I’m sure director Matthew Lenton and dramaturg Pamela Carter had a strong hand in shaping the production’s execution, and both should be commended.
It is impossible to single anyone out because the ensemble work is near perfection. The cast is a mixture of Scottish and European talent, and each performer plays a character that radiates playfulness and seriousness. It is easy to care deeply about each of these human beings, even when some of their desires conflict with another.
The design concept also plays a strong hand in the production. Kai Fischer has created a wonderful set and a lighting design that is far more complicated, and beautiful, than at first appearance, and Alasdair Macrae’s sound design proves to be a key element, never overbearing but constantly necessary.
Very few productions linger with me as much as this one has. I find that I am still haunted by it, by the performances, by many of the images, even by much of the music. It is an affecting piece of theatre that shows that live performance can not only be modern but in fact, when done correctly, rise above other mediums in relaying story and character. It takes bold chances and is paid back in huge dividends. This is simply unmissable and will probably be remembered as one of the best artistic events in Scotland this year.
Originally appeared in Onstage Scotland.
At the Traverse until April 11, then touring. For details follow the link here.
Filed under: Touring theatre productions |