York Theatre Royal – until Saturday 10th June. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Following an explosive premier at the National Theatre of Strasbourg, where it won the prestigious Grand Prix de la Littérature, The Pulversied arrives in the UK with a new English translation. A production by Arcola Theatre, Changing Face and York Theatre Royal, supported by Arts Council England, The Romanian Cultural Institute and the Institut Français.
“Stop the rat race. Stop time. Stop the money. Stop the anxiety. Stop everything that has made human beings so bitter.”
As we enter the Studio the stage is set, 4 inert bodies on the floor, appearing to be on a bed of rubble. A broken desk, a cracked wall, and all bits of rubble and technology floating. Suddenly we hear electronic music and all four actors rise up, convulsing to the beat.
We get to meet the four characters. A jet-setting executive, Richard Corgan, relying on Skype for contact with his wife and child, a Senegalese call centre manager, Solomon Israel, attempting to instil French values onto his workers, an engineer, Kate Miles, struggling with motherhood whilst trying to gain promotion and finally a Shanghai factory worker, Rebecca Boey, who is trapped doing repetitive, mundane work to very strict guidelines.
Each character took it in turns standing up, going through their daily lives before a change of music and as if they were robots and had been switched off, they would twitch and crumple to the floor, only for another to twitch, stand up and resume their story from where they had left off. It was all very mechanical and if they were machines.
The actors delivered strong performances and couldn’t be faulted but I found the story quite lacking. In reality there was no story, just small snippets into the lives of 4 people going about their dreary day to day lives, there was no progression, no ending, just drudgery. I honestly thought that the way the show was evolving we were going to treated to an end of the world scenario with everything breaking down and coming to an end, but alas this was not the case, though I wish it had been. This show had been translated from French, perhaps it has lost something in the translation? I certainly found it too much of a slog.