02 August 2008

...some trace of her - inspired by The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky adapted by Katie Mitchell and the company

Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin - Jamie Ballard
Anastassya Filippovna Barashkov - Hattie Morahan
Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin - Ben Whishaw
Aglaya Ivanovna Yepanchin - Helena Lymbery
General Ivan Fyodorovitch Yepanchin/Afanassy Ivanovich Totsky - Gawn Grainger
Gavril 'Ganya' Ardalyonovich Ivolgin - Bradley Taylor
Lizaveta Prokofyevna Yepanchin - Pandora Colin
Hippolite Terentyev - Sam Crane

Director: Katie Mitchell
Designer: Vicki Mortimer
DoP: Leo Warner and Music by Paul Clark

Also including the poems of Emily Dickinson

I sat in D24 but it was too close (low)

You can see a taster of this piece at the NT website here.

I have to confess a bit of disappointment with this. I kept comparing it to my experience with Waves which was pitch perfect and seamlessly magical. I think I saw Waves much later in the run and I guess they had time to get it into a faultless production. 'trace' seems to still have a lot of technical rehearsing left to do. I am not convinced that so much of the video work was supposed to be so soft and the sound work was an absolute mess. The cast that wasn't being featured clunked around the stage in a distracting way which I don't remember in Waves where they seemed to glide around, props in hand as though they were choreographed. I wonder if Kate has had a frustrating time with these fabulous actors because they are not quite so adept at the tech side. I think I read that Ben Whishaw said it wasn't really like acting, it was more about working with props. Whilst this isn't actually true because Ben gave a very moving performance, it implies that the prop element was bothering him.
There is so much to watch in these productions and I don't know if sitting slap bang in the middle of the seating was such a good idea because my view was often obscured by the centre camera. I can't believe that the intention is to watch the screen all the way through because surely, it would be better to watch a well made film, if that was the case. I thought that Sam Crane voicing Ben's action was a beautifully believable combination. With the exception of a few scenes that worked incredibly well, I felt much of this was a mess and with all the anticipation I had, it makes me very sad. The more I think about it, I am convinced it was just a bad night. I know this has all the ingredients to be as amazing as Waves.

There is a '£10 for best seat' offer knocking around and I am tempted to see it again at the end of the run to check it's progress. I really believe this can be an incredible production but it has a lot to iron out. Perhaps I saw it on a bad night. I'm am not off to discover if anything went better on press night..............
edit: Just caught up on some reviews and it would seem I'm not the only person who thinks D is a tad too near and I also think that the info from the West End Whingers (one of the last paragraphs) about the final quarter not being ready in some of the previews substantiates my feelings about hoping it will go from strength to strength.

UPDATE: Second viewing in the middle of September was magical. All the right adjustments had been made and it was a pure, moving joy.