From: Tuesday, 28th April 2009
To: Saturday, 16 May 2009
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Marianne hasn’t seen her ex-husband Johan in 30 years. Johan’s son Henrik owes him money that he will never be able to pay back. Henrik’s daughter Karin is a talented cellist - more talented than he ever was - who looks more like her late mother with every passing day. Bergman’s masterpiece, by turns funny and moving, expertly weaves love and conflict; the tragedy of growing old and the need to let go. Saraband is underscored by Bach’s beautiful suites for cello from which the play draws its name.
8 May 2009
An elegant and open ended exploration of fractured family relationships, Ingmar Bergman’s final film translates well to the stage in this adaptation by Ulla Svanström Kaplow and Jeffrey Kaplow.
Derek Bond’s production draws detailed performances by well-blended ensemble. Translator Jeffery Kaplow turns on a sixpence between dignity and irascibility as the 88-year-old Johann, a wealthy and promiscuous former academic who now lives in semi-isolation in his summer house. He is visited by an ex-wife, Marianne (a precise, contained performance by Eileen Nicholas), after twenty years of separation, and for a time they develop a substantial platonic connection.
Marianne has always argued that Johann, despite his gruff exterior, is fundamentally a gentle and loving soul. This view is challenged, however, when she meets Karin, his teenage granddaughter from his first marriage, played here with an engaging mix of tension and intelligence by Augustina Seymour....
Latest User Review
Gordon Martin - 10 May 2009:
After decades apart, Marianne returns to see ex-husband Johann. Why? To repair a 20 year rift? Henrik, Johann's son by a former marriage, is grieving over the loss of his beloved wife Anna. He hates his father but has to beg for financial help so his daughter Karin's career can flourish. Karin is a beautiful and talented cellist with a future but weighed down with parental expectation, sadness and grief. The four protagonists in Bergman's chamber piece explore the harrowing depths of family relationships. Each embarks on an individual journey of painful discovery with the music of Bach providing a soothing counterpoint. This uk premiere of the stage version of Bergman's celebrated final film, has been faithfully adapted by Ulla and Jeffrey Kaplow, who also plays Johann. The piece is well directed by David Bond, allowing each actor the space to draw us naturally into his or her own private hell, and the beautifully designed and lit panelled set, evokes both church and home. The sense of claustrophobia in these tasteful middle class Swedish interiors is almost palpable. Eileen Nicholas's Marianne looks and sounds perfect, with a gentle, subtle performance which, along with Bach's music, provides the voice of reason. Marianne is a lawyer and at times she can seem a little too professional amid the emotional turbulence going on around her. A little more grit wouldn't go amiss and she shows she's capable of spirit when Johann finally pushes her too far. Jeffrey Kaplow's Johann is played with more obvious rage than the chilling understatement and irony Erland Josephson brought to the role in the film, but on its own terms works well. Kaplow's grumpy, contemptuous curmudgeon of a Johann is a good foil or Nicholas's meek Marianne and the pair provide some of the evening's more touching and humourous moments. Philip Rham's Henrik is the most rounded character on stage drawing on a wide range of nuance to great effect. He captures the emotional turmoil of a person broken by the pain of loss, first his wife, then career and now daughter. Augusta Seymour's has the intelligence and vulnerability necessary for Karin's dilema but also the depth to bring off the trial of breaking free from her father's all consuming needs. Her story, at least, ends on a note of hope. If this sounds like a positive conclusion, don't be fooled because we are left with Bergman's bleak view of the human condition. Despite all best efforts to connect, and families are no exception, words ultimately fail and we are all on our own. As Johann says, in the end there is merely silence. ...