Tag Archives: Grief

Review of “Vincent River” at Jacob’s Market, Cardiff by Roger Barrington

 

(4 / 5)

 

Philip Ridley’s tense two-hander receives its first performance in Cardiff with the action relocated to the Welsh capital.

In-Yer-Face theatre associated playwright Philip Ridley is renowned for his uncompromising scripts and action, and nearly twenty years on from its Hampstead Theatre premiere, “Vincent River” still packs a punch.

In a famous review of 1994 of Ridley’s “Ghost from a Perfect Place” Michael Billingham, probably Britain’s most renowned theatre critic launched a rant on the gratuitous violence on display. In turn Billingham was criticised for not getting the point.

In “Vincent River” the explicit violence is only spoken about in a flashback”, and it is identified with lengthy soliloquys from Davey, (Aly Cruickshank) towards the end, more reminicent of another highly regarded Ridley play, “The Pitchfork Disney”.

As a gay man, Ridley often writes from his own personal experience, and this is shown in “Vincent River”, not only in terms of homosexual alienation, but in the character of Anita, (Victoria Pugh) who has been forced to relocate due to the unwelcome publicity in the aftermath of her son Vincent’s murder.

Davey has been stalking Anita for a while, anxious to offload something  that is weighing heavily on his mind. After plucking up the courage to confront Anita in her new flat,  and after an uncertain nervy start, the two of them engage in a feisty dialogue over the remaining 80 minutes. Ridley develops the character by both of them relating stories about their past –  Anita with Vincent and Davey with his trophy girlfriend Rachael and his dying mother.

The climax is memorable with Anita bawling a Primal Howl, (I wanted to write Primal Scream to honour a favourite band, but it is a howl not a scream), that will echo in the memory of the audience long after the end of the play.

The blinding light as Davey leaves Anita’s flat may indicate a kind of release from the revelations that the charged conversation had revealed, but there is no catharsis in this play. You can’t really expect this in a play where a gay young man dies from a frenzied, pointless homophobic attack.

The question is why is Davey feeling a craving to speak to Anita? He found the body and reported it in to the police, but isn’t he too personally involved. That’s what Anita is wondering.

Ridley’s naturalistic dialogue urges fine performances from the two actors, and he receives it here. Aly Cruickshank  who impressed me recently in Spilt Milk’s, “Five Green Bottles” provides another edgy performance, at times deserving the audience’s hostility and at others our sympathy.

Experienced actress, in all formats of performance,  Victoria Pugh offers at different  times an angry, grieving, sexy inquisitor a performance of subtly and emotional depth. Although, at times, when she showed anger and spoke more quickly, I did have a little difficulty understanding her. Mind this might be down to me, for in Aberdare, I do have some problems understanding my neighbours when they get agitated… which sadly is quite a regular occurrence!

Luke Hereford’s assured direction  complements the two actors, although I think he has a little work to do in the middle of the play, that dragged a little, but that could be down to first night blues. Also a strategic repositioning of empty bottles may be considered.

Composer Josh Bowles’s input worked well within a space that exudes a great atmosphere for such an intense play as “Vincent River”.

One problem that I have with this play, from a didactic standpoint,  is that audience members, whether gay or straight will already be sympathetic to the cause. I can’t envisage many homophobes parting with a tenner to watch this.

I shall finish with one sobering thought. It has been reported in The Independent newspaper last year, that in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, homophobic attacks increased by 147%.  The re-emergence of nationalism and far-right governments have a tarnished history with regard to minority groups and one only has to think about Nazi Germany who persecuted homosexuals as well as Jews, Gypsies and political opponents with a relish that new no bounds.

“Vincent River” is a thrilling intense drama that gets the treatment from No Boundaries Theatre that it deserves.

An interview that I conducted recently with director Luke Hereford about this production can be found here.

http://getthechance.wales/2018/09/11/preview-with-interview-of-vincent-river-at-jacobs-market-cardiff-19-21-september-2018/

The play uses pervasive language and covers mature themes and is deemed suitable for those aged over 14.

Its run ends on 21st September.  I understand that tickets are only available for the performance this evening, (20th September).

 

Roger Barrington

Review of “In the Fade” watched at Chapter by Roger Barrington

 

(4 / 5)

Fatih Akin, is a writer/director with a social conscience, and “In the Fade” is another example that explore this theme. Born in Germany to Turkish immigrant parents, his ethnicity isn’t ever too far from his much acclaimed work.

I first came to notice Akin, in his brilliant 2004 film, “Head on” which told the story of two Turkish immigrants who bond together after ending up in the same Hamburg psychiatric hospital. Compared to the acclaimed 1995 Mathieu Kassovitz film, “La Haine” it provides a ferocious mix of rage and humour, which is typical of many of Akin’s films..

Although, there isn’t much humour in “In the Fade”, which examines the impact of the violent Neo-Nazi campaign of murder and terrorism against the Turkish community in Germany, that was at its height around 15 years ago.

After a tragic act of terrorism, Katja Sekerci, (Diane Kruger) tries to comes to terms with the aftermath of losing her husband and only child. She turns to drugs to try and alleviate her immediate sense of loss, and these are discovered when police arrive to interview her as a witness. The amount is negligible, (only a misdemeanour), but this comes back to haunt her later at the trial she has to endure.

Katja noticed a likely perpetrator who had parked her bicycle outside where he husband, (who was minding their young son), worked. Being able to provide an excellent description, the suspect and her husband are arrested and detained.

At the subsequent trial, Katja’s usage of drugs is used to discredit her reliability as a witness, and her victim husband, who had earlier spent four years incarceration for dug-dealing, also has his character besmirched, although he had qualified himself up whilst in prison, and had successfully set up his own business.

It was a scandal that “investigators assumed that the victims and their families had skeletons in their closets simply because of where they came from,” Akin told the German news agency dpa. “Having a Turkish, foreign background myself, I felt that this was a personal issue. This could have happened to me.”

The film is separated into three sections. The interaction between Katja and her husband and young boy – a happy relationship. Akin skillfully contrasts a relaxed and happy Katja in a Turkish Bath, at the same time that the act of terrorism that shatters her existence is taking place.

The second section deals with the resultant trial of the two suspects and the ordeal that Katja has to endure in the courtroom, not only with having to face the man and wife Neo-Nazis alleged to have carried out the atrocity, but having to listen to a harrowing account of her little boy’s devastating injuries. She wasn’t even able to see her family’s remains – the sympathetic investigating police officer says, that they are only body parts now – no longer human.

The final part, set in Greece, because there appears to have been collusion between a Greek far right sympathiser and the two Neo-Nazis, is about Katja’s revenge. The powerful and emotional final scene will haunt you long after the conclusion of the film.

German actress Diane Kruger, rarely performs in her native language, having starred on Hollywood  blockbusters such as “Inglorious Basterds” and “National Treasure” . Ms Kruger is exceptional in this performance, exemplifying a woman dealing with grief and anger to perfection. She dominates this film, and appears in nearly every scene. It is no wonder that she won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival 2017 for this role.

“In the Fade” has won a host of awards including Best Motion Picture in a Foreign Language at the 2018 Golden Globes. Fatih Akin was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Fesitval for this film.

“In the Fade” is a compelling crime drama/thriller elevated with an exceptional performance from the central character.

It might be well to reflect in these uncertain times with Brexit, that for many who voted to leave the EU based on the idea of the UK being overrun with migrant workers, that, this ideology, in fact is largely racist , and the bottom rung of a latter that reaches to acts of hatred from members of the Far-Right depicted in this film. We should learn to accept people for what they are, rather than how they live their lives, how they dress themselves and what they believe in.

Country: Germany, France

Language: German with English Subtitles

Time: 106 minutes

Cert: 18

The film was watched at Chapter, but has now completed its short run.

END

Roger Barrington