Come in from the cold for One Evening with Beckett, Schubert and Dillane
Thu Dec 10 2009
Last night we caught the first New York performance of One Evening, a unique piece of sound theater that blends Schubert's melancholy song cycle Winterrreise with prose and poetry fragments by Samuel Beckett. The piece is a collaboration among director Katie Mitchell, actor Stephen Dillane, pianist Andrew West and tenor Mark Padmore (pictured left to right). Winterreise (1827) tells of a heartbroken lover trudging through a wintry landscape, passing towns and eventually coming upon a threadbare, shivering organ grinder. The show consists of the three men speaking or singing into microphones while creating Foley effects to simulate the sound of a lone figure walking through snow and whistling wind. To create such effects, the performers scrunch material wrapped in a rag for footsteps, or crinkle a tinfoil snack wrapper to make the sound of a crackling fire. It's a bit like a high-concept, expressionistic radio play; in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, we alternately watched the stage and closed our eyes to create mind pictures inspired by the sounds. It was a treat to hear Dillane recite the Beckett text (go read Helen Shaw's profile of him), and Padmore sang in an intimate, unforced way to West's equally restrained work at the keys. Also notable: hearing the Schubert song cycle in English (Michael Symmons Roberts translated). The great composer used poems by Wilhelm Mller in their original German, so musicologists might scoff at hearing them in translation, but guess what? It's a pleasure to hear these 24 songs in a way that doesn't have you glancing at the program every minute or so. Get a ticket if you can; One Evening only plays tonight and tomorrow, and the run is almost sold out. Given how cold it will be tonight, there's a good chance you'll get in.