Friday, 29 August 2014

'Sommer 14- A Dance of Death' Finborough Theatre ***

This year marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, and whilst we remember all those soldiers who lost their lives, and those are fighting currently, the Finborough Theatre in Kensington presents Rolf Hochhurt’s play, ‘Sommer 14- A Dance of Death’. I thought that the production was one that connected the accurate portrayal of a sovereign who requires to be the authoritative nation above all others, and narrated by a guide who prompts a thought-provoking insight into the effects of war on young men. ‘Sommer 14- A Dance of Death’ is set, of course in 1914, which has been cleverly adapted into a 150 minute performance by Gwynne Edwards have permitted us to see the rigorous planning of what became known as the Great War, and the constant deception from both sides. The play is channelled through the character, Death, who appears to be occupying the persona of a deceased soldier, and threads through a biased European viewpoint of the reason for the First World War, which instigates a real dislike to the Kaiser Wilheim II. As well as, the production flutters into such locations as Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Washington and on board many ships within a miniscule amount of time, which lead to one frequently trying to maintain my focus on the consequences of the war that obliterate thousands of people across Europe. Death seems vastly despondent towards the actual reasoning of being a part of the war, and why he was killed, as with many other servicemen. Throughout the production Kaiser Wilheim II feels immensely mental as he requires to rule a dictatorship on a worldwide scale, where his rules and regulations are the only ones that are acceptable. This reminds me of the National Theatre's production of William Shakespeare’s, ‘King Lear’, where they monarch is crazed. Hochurtt and Edwards’ narrative is agreeable as we are narrated through a disturbing individual, and a disconcerting atmosphere. Paradoxically, the play lacks a somewhat cohesive nature and discombobulated ones focus. On a positive note, the performance did have some wondrous aspects, and the dialogue was slightly rib-tickling. The performances by the company of ‘Sommer 14-A Dance of Death’ were performed with gracious energy and vocally splendorous. Dean Bray is excellent as a central protagonist, Death. His movements were spellbinding and his vocal abilities were really intriguing and vastly mesmerising. One hopes that Bray will be successful in his acting career as he is a fine performer. The direction by Christopher Loscher was pleasing as he is captures the fraught atmosphere that surrounded the First World War and Kaiser Wilheim II’s insanity. It's worked wonders on the Finborough Theatre's proscenium arch. Mike Lee’s design is gorgeous as the dark and depressing reality of war has been complimented here with Rob Mills’ exquisite lighting design and Ermo Frankvyle’s abundant sound design. This was very impressive collaboration and fruitful one. Overall, the experience of ‘Sommer 14- A Dance of Death’ was enjoyable.  

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