Fleur Darkin and Jemima Levick’s minimalist yet sensual adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover leaves us with a nostalgic chill down our spines breathing an air of abandonment, for a love than can never be. This play is a tragic tale relating Marguerite Duras’ youth in Vietnam, where, at the age of fifteen, she fell in love with an older man. The characters, specifically the Lovers themselves, make us feel all the more cold and naked under the imposing powers of family, race, and poverty. A stark contrast is indeed set between the dreamy escape of the lovers in their fantasy, and the reality of poverty along with family commitments that stand against their fantasy.
The costumes, the set, props, music and choreography – every element of this production has been constructed in The Lyceum’s workshop and the authenticity of each of these elements can be witnessed on stage as each piece adds to the contemporary element the adaptation of this twentieth century novel. The narrator (Susan Vidler) is a depiction of Duras when old and the only speaking character throughout the play, voicing all of the characters until we are brought to the present. Leila Kalbassi’s set looked as if delicately placed among transparent silk veils within a cherry blossom dream. The simplicity and the minimalist design really enhanced the delicate nature of Duras’ love, and the elegant bodies of the dancers.
Darkin also uses the bold tool of contact improvisation as the fundamental grounding for her choreography which really complements the height of emotions portrayed on the stage: the intimacy between the lovers, the aggression of the older brother Pierre (Francesco Ferrari), and the loving relationships between women and children. The dancers move across the stage without losing touch with each other which really shows how close they are in the intensity of the emotion portrayed on stage. The directors also use the french singer Camille’s songs for the dances, although the songs are composed in a way that leave the audience confused since at one time the songs seem to be sung in French, and at another, they seem to be sung in Mandarin. One would perhaps recommend that the language segues are made clearer for the audience as it draws attention away from the dance itself. Yosuke Kusano also succeeds in adding some interesting layers of modern dance moves which are recognisable from his training in Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring.
Overall the play is performed to a high standard, beautifully juxtaposing a delicate love with helplessness in poverty and family drama. The audience cannot help but notice these themes played against a minimalist and very simple set. This adaptation of The Lover is perfect for those melancholy in love – you must certainly experience this!
Runs until 3 February 2018
Photo Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic