Bolster’s two-hander is a
unique piece that is elegiac and erotic, sensual and sensitive. Love and passions ebb and flow in this tale of two tortured souls
who, in finding each other, find moments of happiness only to have
them disappear and disintegrate. It is based on the relationship
between the artist Egon Schiele and his most famous model Valerie.
Turner’s simple but clever set
uses decking as a platform. Raised planks that rise up the rear walls
not only provide us with the backdrop for the studio but act as
breakwaters when the grainy black and white projections of gulls,
waves and fish evoke the sea and the shore nearby.
The two characters introduce themselves, each
in their own space on a ship where they first meet. We are witness to
their thoughts: Valerie is on the lookout for a pick-up or a vulnerable
person to pickpocket, whilst Egon sees her as a possible muse and
model. But this is no sordid down-to-earth affair, for the language
is poetic and powerful, infused with intense imagery that beguiles
and bewitches: “Smile
and dance and move the moving hands of yours that know to search my
softer deeper spots. You skilfully, begin to join the dots.”
And this lyrical interpretation is enhanced by
stylised presentation that captures and reflects the play's hidden
depths. Beautifully choreographed movements, developed by Jennifer
Malarkey, seem to slow down time
as the characters intertwine and part again.
Oskar’s Valie is a sharp,
intelligent, passionate girl who can switch emotionally in an
instant, revealing her vulnerability. Keiron
Jecchinis's artist is a man who
seems unable to deal with his emotions: afraid to let his passions
surface yet bitter and angry when illness begins to cripple him and
he can no longer paint or love. What are the beasts within and should
we control them or let them loose?
Both actors have
superb voices and under Natasha
Pryce’s direction give
powerful performances that hold the audience in a series of personal
reflections and narrations, switching between lyrical, swaying
verse and terse dialogue. An emotionally engaging and profoundly
moving piece of theatre.