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Posts Tagged ‘Percy & Eleonore Adlon’

Emma Rice is first and foremost a storyteller. She sprinkles her stories with an inventiveness that makes them sparkle. Her best work, like Brief Encounter, Romantics Anonymous, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk and Tristan & Yseult is captivating. The problem with this adaptation of Percy & Eleonore Adlon’s German indie film is that there isn’t enough story. What comes out is still inventive, with exceptional stagecraft and excellent performances, but it isn’t substantial enough. I admired the work that had gone into it, but I was left thinking ‘what’s the point?’. Maybe she’s too close to the source (her favourite film) to be truly objective?

It’s set in the Mojave Desert in the South West US at a cafe / gas station miles from nowhere. Two German tourists are passing through, but for some reason Herr Munchgstettner abandons his wife Jasmin there. She befriends the bartenders, truckers and other travellers who are also passing through, makes herself useful enough to earn her stay there, and bonds with proprietor Brenda. Cue songs, magic and some dance, and that’s about it really. It’s more of a stage picture than a story, which is the crux of the issue for me.

The Old Vic stage transforms well into this desert landscape in Lez Brotherston & Vicki Mortimer’s design. There’s some good music, with Sandra Marvin and Le Gateau Chocolat in particularly good voice. There’s a fine collection of quirky characters passing through. In addition to the magic, there’s some mime, puppetry and other bits of fun business. The community choir on video at the curtain call was a lovely touch. It just doesn’t go anywhere, and in comparison with most of Rice’s work left me hungry. Idiosyncratic and charming, but slight and insubstantial.

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