Reviewed by Erica Enriquez
Venue: Old 505 Theatre – 505, 342 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills. Runs until 22nd June 2014, 8pm Wed-Sat, 7pm Sun. Tickets are $28/$18, bookings essential. Doors open 1/2 hour prior to performance start time
Playwright: Jon Fosse
Director: Jonathan Wald
Actors: Susie Lindeman, Berynn Schwerdt
Theatre reviewIt’s amazing what can be said with very little dialogue, and even more intriguing what can be conveyed with the little dialogue presented. In Winter, writer Jon Fosse shows the audience the tragic, desperate, sometimes timid but always tense relationship between a man and a woman who shouldn’t have come together at all.
If you’re a fan of Fosse’s work, this one won’t disappoint – it’s perfectly in keeping with this Norwegian playwright’s stylized, almost bare-bones portrayal of two people in the midst of a clandestine affair (although, aren’t all affairs clandestine in the beginning, until it becomes just like any other relationship needing maintenance?).
When relationships are interpreted in film or theatre, the characters speak of their feelings for each other, whether good or bad, in often flowery, rambling prose, as if words cannot contain the depth of their emotions. In Winter, that same scrambling-for-the-right-way-to-say-it type discussion is pulled off with dialogue you almost imagine saying yourself in that situation – stilted, confused and sometimes anxious, as if every sentence uttered is fraught with fear of saying the wrong thing. Fosse’s script felt as if it was written like song lyrics, in that they were delivered like verse and chorus. Under Jonathan Wald’s direction, Susie Lindeman and Berynn Schwerdt as the despairing couple pulled it off well.
Lindeman’s character will resonate with many, particularly women. She is at once vulnerable, yet coy and a little quirky at times, and she’s fascinating to watch. Opening scenes show her as an almost coquettish vixen type, but as the play moves along (there’s only an hour of it, so it moves along nicely) you see another side of her character, one that demands not only affection but also respect.
By the same token, Schwerdt’s character is the one you think you know and recognize, but just like Lindeman’s character, he is also the party in the affair who needs attention too. They play off each other perfectly, one minute Lindeman is demanding, “I’m your woman!” to which Schwerdt responds with an infuriating, “Yes”, and just when you think you have decided on a side to stick by, Schwerdt is trying to find a reason for this whole mess, “I waited for you!”
Minimal set design and indeed the cast of two really bring out the struggle of these two characters trying to discuss what they are, and who they are to each other. Sometimes it takes away the white noise that plays in the brain when thrashing out relationship matters, and other times it is just white noise, highlighting the bewilderment that comes with relationships. Winter looks at how we communicate within our relationships, regardless of who’s giving it validity, or even how we meet and come to be in certain people’s lives. It’s about coming in from the cold, stripping off your bulky coat and laying all out on the table (or hotel bed).