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Song From Far Away
The words are letters to Pauli, Willem's dead brother and his funeral is why Willem (Eelco Smits) is flying from his New York home to Amsterdam, where nothing waits for him except past memories and the hurt of a long since over love affair.
In a bar Willem recalls how that first night in Amsterdam, he met a young Brazilian man, Marcello, whom he brings back to his hotel room. In the dark windows, as dark as mirrors, it is snowing and Marcello says he will watch over him while he sleeps. On waking, Willem checks his wallet and Marcello sees this and Willem is ashamed at being caught thinking ill of Marcello.
Simon Stephens' language forms word pictures in your head, like this description of an inept kiss with his sister: "We went to kiss each other but we got it all wrong and we kind of bumped ears with each other and that was a bit funny and a bit sad."
Coupled with the loss of his brother, Willem feels the distance between him and his parents and at the same time the loss of his relationship with his lover Isaac, whom he meets in a coffee bar. Twelve years ago, Willem tells us, he had walked out on Isaac because he though it wasn't working.
Yes, the words are important but here it is the atmosphere, the lighting, the staging which we soak up. The shadows, the interpretation of the optical illusions that are maybe a flat floor, maybe 3D. The director has accentuated the ethereal and alien quality of this man's experience in returning home to a now alien culture for the funeral of his sibling. The connections are not there anymore. His parents are strangers, his lover has moved on and doesn't seem to remember their days of intimacy.
Willem sings his song of love and loss. He sits in the window with his knees bent as he describes the grave of his brother and the cry of his father and reflects on the lost words of his brother. What he Willem might have said and what he didn't say.
The words are dominated by the images in Ivo van Hove's visual production. Thoughts are shadows of regret.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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