I Am the Wind
Jon Fosse, English version by Simon Stephens
Although it is very European in contemporary theatrical terms, without Samuel Beckett, works like I am the Wind would not exist. In fact, this two-hander is an existential exploration that feels like Beckett at his most impenetrable but with a slower tempo.
It starts out rather like Frankenstein just along the road, as the nameless character played by Tom Brooke staggers on to a sandy seashore before being rescued and carried by an equally nameless figure, played by Jack Laskey. For the rest of the review, for the sake of simplicity, the characters will be identified by the actors' names though the script not entirely helpfully designates them "The One" and "The Other".
The pair say nothing for some time, allowing viewers to wonder whether they are witnessing some post-apocalyptic period or just two men who have been left behind on an isolated island for some unexplained reason.
When they finally begin to talk, Laskey starts up a kind of catechism, allowing us to discover that Brooke apparently has a mental age not far into the teen years.
Even so, this determined individual exerts a greater degree of imagination and control, as the plot, such as it is, unfolds. This might be because he is on home territory.
Having got bored with their island, Brooke suggests taking a boat ride to another equally barren spot. Miraculously a square platform emerges from the depths and becomes their raft. This is a remarkable creation by set designer, Richard Peduzzi, as it articulates in almost any direction and angle, allowing slightly more imaginative viewers to believe that the two men really are adrift at sea.
This becomes the setting for further pondering about the meaning of their lives before Brooke takes an irredeemable step, becoming "the wind" to bring the 70 minutes to a definitive closure.
The average theatregoer will struggle to understand the message that Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse is trying to get across but that is his style.
What they will appreciate is the acting, with Tom Brooke outstanding and the fine direction of French film and stage legend Patrice Chéreau, who ensures that we are able to enjoy a stream of unforgettable images of desolation and isolation, greatly assisted by the efforts of Peduzzi and his lighting colleague Dominique Bruguière.
Playing until 21 May
Reviewer: Philip Fisher