Persona, Riverside Studios - ★★★★★ - Until February 23, 2020

Photographer: Pamela Raith.

Persona is viewed as a pinnacle in cinematic art. Can it be successfully translated into a theatrical experience? The answer is a resounding "Yes!" This production captures the haunting, musing quality of the film and does full justice to Bergman's brooding, enigmatic masterpiece. The use of the Earth Harp played by William Close perfectly sets the tone of Paul Schoolman's adaptation while Fotini Dimou's simple set and the projections subtly create the atmosphere. From a sparse reality we are lured into this tortuous psychological drama which has inspired so much interpretation. The constrained space and interaction of the two characters gradually open up into a universe full of profound and far ranging questioning. For us, Bergman's piece has always been a reflection on the interaction of art and life, and how the former can be almost parasitic upon the latter. Still, there are many questions raised by this symbiotic relationship between the artist and her caregiver (who might well be two aspects of the same person) and this production resonates with these possible interpretations. Alice Krige gives an unforgettable performance as Alma. She beautifully leads us from the simple premises of the relationship into its subversive complexity. In a piece in which she controls the narrative she never loses the audience's interest. Nobuhle Mngcwengi does a lovely job of slowly and almost wordlessly expressing the power shift in the relationship, and Paul Schoolman hits just the right note as the narrator, perhaps puppet master, of this drama. Bergman's film is an acknowledged high point of film, and this Persona is a theatrical tour de force! 

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until February 23, 2020
Tue - Sat: 7:30 pm. Thu, Sat & Sun: 3 pm
Riverside Studios
Nearest tube: Hammersmith
https://www.riversidestudios.co.uk/book/persona

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