Translunar Paradise, Bristol Old Vic

8 02 2012

Love and loss are at the heart of Translunar Paradise from Theatre Ad Infinitum at the Bristol Old Vic, and for those who have ever lost a loved one, try to hold back the tears, for even though this production has not one word uttered, it packs an emotional punch of tremendous power.

Sat at the kitchen table by himself, William is coming to terms with his wife’s death. With an intake of breath, we travel back in time, first perhaps only a few days, weeks or months, and then much longer.

William (George Mann) and Rose (Deborah Pugh) are no longer old and wrinkled, sorrow etched over their faces, but young and fresh-faced. They are courting, dancing, bickering; their young selves joyful and carefree.

But these are just memories, and soon William is pouring two cups of tea, searching an old suitcase for more triggers to take him back to happier times.

Rose may be gone, but she returns from the grave to keep her grieving husband company, scolding him once again when he has too much sugar in his tea, and allowing him to come to terms with her passing in his own time. It is heartbreaking to watch, but wonderful to see the pair young again, as their wrinkled latex  masks are removed.

We join them in turn at a hospital bed, the battlefields of the Second World War, a station platform, on holiday, in the midst of a fierce argument, in flagrante.

Throughout it all is an accordion accompaniment by Kim Heron, who sings as well as making her instrument mimic everything from fireworks to a ticking clock, jumping between past and present, happiness and sadness, life and death.

Translunar Paradise is mesmerising and magnificent, and an astonishingly accomplished piece of theatre, written and directed by Mann with dramaturgy by Amy Nostbakken and Nir Paldi.

There were three bows at yesterday’s opening night and I would also wager not a dry eye in the house at what could be Bristol’s theatrical event of the year.

Translunar Paradise is at Bristol Old Vic until February 11. Click here for more info.


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