Faces In The Crowd
Gate Theatre January-February 2020
A woman who works as a
translator discovers the biography of an obscure Mexican poet and is
so fascinated by him that she wants to translate his poems. But
finding few if any, she writes her own poems in his style and passes
them off as his, going so far as inventing a fictional translator of
the newly discovered works.
Eventually she begins to
take on the
persona of the poet, finding her imaginings of his life more real
than her own home life with husband and children.
McDougall's adaptation of Valeria Luiselli's novel is certainly about
the fluidity of reality levels and individual identities, and I
suppose a certain amount of ambiguity and imprecision come with the
territory. But what might work in a novel is considerably less
successful on stage.
There are two main
reasons for this. First, in
theatrical terms, this can't help coming across as old news.
everything Faces In The Crowd has to say was fresh and exciting when
Pirandello explored it a hundred years and more ago. But it has
filtered down and been absorbed into popular culture so thoroughly –
think The Matrix, Face Off, any number of identity-theft and
what-is-real movies – that you are too likely to feel that this
play is working far too hard to say far too little.
adaptor-director Ellen McDougall has chosen the dangerous path of
attempting to depict chaos through chaos. As the main character's
sense of who she is and what is real becomes ever more fragile, so
does the play's structure and simple communication.
efforts of actress Jimena Larraguivel and an underused supporting
cast can't guide us along a clear narrative line when there doesn't
seem to be one, and by the time we reach a Philadelphia bar (Don't
ask) things have descended into incoherence.
You leave Faces In The Crowd with a vague sense of what they were trying to do and with regret that they were not more successful.
Receive alerts every time we post a new review
Review - Faces In The Crowd - Gate Theatre 2020