Saturday, 28 March 2009

Dimetos, Donmar, 28 March 2009

Sometimes I don't understand critics.

Well, I normally understand them even if I don't agree with them, but I would have thought that somebody out there would feel the same I did seeing Athol Fugard's Dimetos at the Donmar Warehouse. I've been quite baffled by audiences' and critics' responses lately, after the lukewarm response to Three Days of Rain and I know Dimetos is a difficult play but I had guessed it would be a love-it/hate-it kind of deal. The Telegraph review has cheered me up, at least, but I'd had love to see more people sharing the wild love I have for this play.

I came out of the theatre totally transformed by the experience - by the writing and the acting. I had seen Jonathan Pryce in theatre before but it was in Dimetos when I was blown away by his talent. He is miles from almost everyone in this business. I can only remember being this impressed with a performance in theatre on only two other occasions: Elling and Statfford Castle's Hamlet.

This play is something I find difficult to talk about and will find difficult for some time. I had only heard of Athol Fugard and knew of his reputation, but had not seen or read any of his plays. But I came out of the play wanting to know more, to read more. Sadly, even if yes, Fugard is a brilliant writer and I enjoyed reading Boesman and Lena and Siswe Bansi is Dead I found there none of the poetry and pain that made Dimetos such a remarkable experience at the Donmar.

Dimetos seems to be something different altogether, even for the author. Its lack of succesful must have been painful. Specially because it feels profoundly personal, I don't know if in the themes but at least in style. On paper, it shouldn't work. You take the play by its elements, its language and theatrical techniques and you would expect a dense, heavy, pedantic play. And maybe it is dense, but the potry within it gives it such wings. It is suspended, like Lydia at the beginning of the play, in a moment of grace. It is full of darkness and yet you come out of it oddly exilarated. It is not pedantic it celebrates theatre and language. We do not care about the allegory it might hold, we care about what's on stage. Flesh and blood.

The cast is not only flawless but more than that, they are inspiring and challenging in every way. Jonathan Pryce takes the stage and makes it his own in a way I have seldom seen before. He manages to be powerful and subtle at the same time. The young Holliday Grainger was also a huge, pleasing surprise.

My very deep review of the whole thing would be: Wow.

The Independent review.
The Guardian review.
The Telegraph review.

No comments: