Riverrun, National Theatre, review: An extraordinary adaptation of Finnegans Wake
The Shed, NT
Friday 14 March 2014
Olwen Fouere begins by removing her shoes and walking barefoot over a pattern of salt crystals to the microphone which is propped on a sinuously curved stand.
In a rousing unearthly drone, she intones the invocation “Sandhyas! Sandhyas! Sandhyas!” – the Sanskrit word that means the “twilight of dawn”.
And thus we are launched on Riverrun, her extraordinary sixty-minute solo piece that she's adapted from the last book of Finnegans Wake, James Joyce's punning, polyglot hubbub of a novel or, in one its characteristic coinages, “traumscrapt”.
Embodying the voice of the River Liffey as it journeys to the sea, Fouere brings a mesmeric physical intensity to the shifting moods in Joyce's intricate serio-comic soundscape.
At times, it's as though the inward-looking verbal torrent in Beckett's Not I has been extroverted to embrace the whole of myth and human history.
Much of it is, of course, impenetrable but Fouere – with her incantatory precision and wiry, undulant presence – attunes you to the monologue's addictively ludic and allusive music.
And when the river dissolves into the sea in a mid-sentence ending (which connects on a loop with novel's first words), Fouere's rapt face seems to concentrate in that suspension all the freight of joy and sorry that has gone before.
A prodigious feat.
To 22 March; 020 7452 3000
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote