Autumn Sonata

“It is All About Me”
by Saul Reichlin for remotegoat on 14/01/08

With daring, originality and optimism, adaptor/director Dumle Kogbara brings to the tiny Lion and Unicorn Theatre his version of the great Swedish writer/director, Ingmar Bergman’s deeply personal and revered work. Autumn Sonata was Bergman’s chamber cinema at its exquisite peak. 

The original story is telescoped here into a collection of naked exchanges, some verbal, some written, all painful, in which the intensely personal drama of the troubled relationship between a self obsessed concert pianist mother, played by Annie Labura, and her emotionally starved daughter, Eva, played Faye Billing, is finally faced head on. It had to happen, it seems. The beautifully autumnal Chopin and Beethoven music, such an intrinsic part of the characters’ lives, plays its part in the story and in the drama. 

Miss Billings brings to Eva a sense of intense melancholy and of a wasted life which invokes a special mood of vulnerability in her, and makes possible the awkward revelations between her and the simmering, repressed Charlotte of Miss Labura. The only thing the two women share is the bottle which loosens their tongues, and it is an irony that until then their words seemed more for their own benefit than the other’s. But that, after all, is what is at the heart of their struggle. 

The other characters in the story are either heard in a disembodied narration by Albert Clack (Eva’s husband) or simply not included, except by reference, but in this play about a mother’s visit from hell, there is plenty to keep one entertained. 
Scheduled to be part of a double bill with Celebration Concerto, Kogbara’s own writer/director debut, an actor’s illness meant that this half of the evening’s fare will be available from next week.

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