Review: Winter (Persophia / The Old 505 Theatre)

winter2Venue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Jun 7 – 22, 2014
Playwright: Jon Fosse
Director: Jonathan Wald
Cast: Susie Lindeman, Berynn Schwerdt

Theatre review
Extramarital affairs remain a taboo subject in the twenty-first century. Marriage is still considered sanctimonious, and of course betrayal in any relationship will never be greeted with nonchalance. Taboos are by nature difficult to discuss, and language often escapes those who transgress. When one is acting against better judgement, explanations struggle to find logic, and words fail. In the space of impulse and emotion, expression is not always best achieved through speech.

Jon Fosse’s Winter demonstrates those inadequacies in the theatre, with a script that uses words to propel action, and to evoke sentiments, but not to describe motives or to divulge feelings. The nameless characters, a woman and a man, speak in incomplete sentences, and with repetitive words that reveal little. Under Jonathan Wald’s direction, the play is surprisingly digestible. A clear sense of narrative is achieved in spite of the text’s poetic style. Assisted by Stephen Colyer’s expertise as a movement choreographer and an accomplished design team, the dynamic and inventive use of space creates an experience that is visually exciting and charged with sensuality.

Susie Lindeman’s performance is suitably quirky, creating a refreshing character with an intriguing allure. Qualities of desperation and desire are beautifully conveyed. Lindeman introduces a vulnerability that gives the story complexity, and keeps us engaged. Berynn Schwerdt’s presence is genuine and weighty. His style is minimal but effective, which adds an air of sophistication to the production. The actor seeks to build meaning into his character’s silences, with quite powerful results.

Winter makes us see and hear from an alternate perspective. It experiments with the way meanings are formed from all that occurs on stage. It is concerned with convention, and the lack of it, in relation to how our senses and minds function. This is not an emotional work, but it does not leave you cold. It is more about the nature of art than it is about relationships and illicit affairs, and fortunately, art can sometimes be more seductive than the prospect of a secret rendezvous in a fancy hotel room.