EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FAVOUR
At the ‘National Theatre’, London.
Exceptionally Good, Beautifully Done, Fantastic.
In this revival of Tom Stoppard’s deeply moving play, 33 years after its first production, directors Felix Barrett and Tom Morris have created theatre that not only does the author’s great work justice but also gifts viewers with an unforgettable and truly original theatrical experience.
The story concerns a dissident (Julian Bleach) being held within an asylum, he must admit to a non-existent mental illness to attain freedom, this he refuses do to. Alongside him in this prison is a patient (Adrian Schiller) genuinely ill who believes himself to be the conductor of a symphony orchestra, an orchestra that is physically on stage throughout the performance. The dissident’s son Sacha (Wesley Nelson) pleas to his father to free himself with the lie. The struggles between sanity and insanity, freedom and repression, humanity and politics are all dealt with delicately and thoughtfully.
To avoid its possibly imperious nature the darkly poignant content of the piece is communicated to the audience subtly by a cast of skilled actors and in such a way that makes it more engaging.
Sound designer Christopher Shutt, conductor Simon Over and Southbank Sinfonia combine to produce music that can only be described as aurally breathtaking. More overwhelming than the score was the multiple talents of the orchestra, who not only played exquisite music but also contributed to the action of the play with choreographed movement (Maxine Doyal), interaction with the actors and even mime.
Sensory indulgence was further supplemented by Designers Bob Crowley and Bruno Poet whose stage and lighting design combined a Brechtian set with emotive illumination, providing a visual parallel with a story that concerns touching drama within the cold confines of a metal institution. The choice of the Olivier theatre worked well, the steeply raked seats, seating up to 1150, look down on the stage and curve round creating an expansive span of vision, much like an amphitheatre, giving the audience a detached yet holistic perspective enhancing the surreal beauty of the piece.
In only 65 minutes a piece of theatre is crafted with such beauty and power that it will undoubtedly be an experience remembered and treasured by all those fortunate enough to have seen it.