USER (06Apr06): Brilliant story line and great charatcers to realli enjoed it
USER (30Mar06): I don't mind the bad language, but with a token child on stage one wonders why there has to be coarse swearing in front of her. That is just one of the uncomfortable devices adopted by this dark and schizophrenic play. Since when has child abuse and consequent suicide been seen as a playful counterpoint to a country house farce? Suspend disbelief if you can but for me, no actor could make the complete lack of reaction to such bombshells plausible. And then they party on regardless? I don't think so. Avoid.
USER (23Mar06): exceptionally well acted. A good two hours theatre but not for those who dislike bad language!!
USER (08Feb06): Festen
Tuesday 7 February 2006
This dramatisation by David Eldridge based on the Dogme film and play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov and Bo Hr. Hansen makes for an exhausting on stage experience for the actors and an emotionally draining experience for the audience too.
Birmingham Rep is the first call on a long UK tour that will culminate in a Broadway stint. The story of a father’s 60th birthday is often a reason for a family celebration, but recent events, the suicide of eldest daughter Linda makes it a time of horrifying revelations.
Christian Coulson plays Linda’s twin brother clearly occupied with more than the expected happiness of being home for a birthday party. It is in his character that we see the sorrow and desperation of what has happened.
His younger brother Michael a people user if ever there was one is played excellently by Laurence Mitchell. Michael is a foul-mouthed character that shouts out his orders at wife and servants alike. He is also a rebel but still very much under the control of his father.
Their father played eloquently by Rupert Fraser is a man who likes to be the centre of attention and obeyed by all and is partnered by a most complicit wife in Else. Belinda Sinclair’s character cannot believe what her beloved Christian is accusing husband Helge of having committed and is in total denial.
Sister Helene played with the air of a free spirit so well by Miranda Foster invites her black boyfriend to the family party and we then see another side to this family that of racial intolerance.
David Eldridge’s adaptation of this Danish play pulls away quickly all of the niceties that time and denial has overshadowed and the audience is left with the revelation that Helge was a child abuser and controller of everything around him.
Rufus Norris directs an excellent cast in a powerful production that has an almost Henry James like undercurrent with the sound of children running, laughing and playing interspersed with the sound of running water a reminder that the suicide of twin sister Linda was by drowning in a bath.
Designer Ian MacNeil’s set makes full use of the huge stage and the black and grey adds to the atmosphere in which the story is set. All in all a most thought provoking evening and one which I am sure will challenge the views of many.