“Can one say the same thing twice? Can one say the same thing twice?” Thus opens George Pattison’s new adaptation of Kierkegaard’s book Repetition, an exploration of the continually changing self. Are we, from one moment to the next, ever the same person? This well-written play in three acts follows the search for repetition by our philosophical narrator, Constantin Constantius. Pattison may be interested in the philosophy, but he adapts fluidly to the dramatic medium, and the audience are kept on their toes, reminded often that, for all we know, every scene is but a figment of the narrator’s imagination.
Andrew Thayer is a masterful Constantius, dominating the stage with his energy and engaging wit. He leads us through the play with cynical asides and thoughtful comments; at times the script sparkles in the exchanges between him and the Young Man, played with convincing passion by David Egan. Sadly the promise of the adaptation was let down by the rest of the acting. Tori McKenna, as a maid and a goose girl by turns, looked at times almost uncomfortable on stage, while Ben Tate’s attempts at caricature were unconvincing. The comic potential in the script – there is a farce midway – was never totally realised. Despite Marc Pacitti’s aptitude for physical comedy, and some good directorial decisions, the acting was simply not there, and the humour fell flat. Sometimes it seems this production is more a devotion to Kierkegaard than a piece of theatre.
Despite this, and first night slip-ups aside, Repetition is well done. Grace Brockway deserves a mention for her fleeting but captivating appearance as an object for Egan’s sublime love and – I sense a repetition – the Juliet to his Romeo. The direction is tight and controlled. The set is simple; the lighting sparse and well-chosen. This is a tight and academic interpretation; the Liszt at the intervals, a thoughtful touch. Would I repeat it? I don’t know – can I?
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