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Thursday 24 May 2018

Brighton Festival 2018 Review: The String Quartets Guide to Sex & Anxiety @ Theatre Royal Brighton

Sometimes it's good to be challenged, to be mystified by unfolding events, to be totally flummoxed by the juxtaposition of what's being revealed. But other times it's best to admit defeat and realise there is no mystery, just bitter disappointment.

The String Quartet's Guide to Sex and Anxiety at Theatre Royal Brighton, was like a theatrical Ready, Steady, Cook - this is what we have in the fridge; some Beethoven, some chairs, some music stands, and let's see what we can concoct to fill the task at hand.

Featuring compositions by Ligeti and Beethoven and directed by one of Europe's most exciting theatre-makers, Calixto Bieito, this new production was billed as 'a delicate and moving reflection on the fragility of the human condition'.

Featuring texts from writers Robert Burton, Anne Sexton, Stig Dagerman and many others, the audience were promised an encounter with anxiety in its many forms.

 

Sadly myself, as well as those around me, felt that the production was little more than disjointed, discordant and unsettling; and an experience only punctuated by the sudden shock of the stacked chairs at the rear of the stage taking a timely mid-performance tumble. 

Supported by the haunting string sounds of The Heath Quartet, the  quartet of actors - Cathy Tyson, Mairead McKinley, Miltos Yerolemou and Nick Harris - did there best with a 'plot' that at times seemed as mystifying to them as it did to the vast swathe of those in attendance.

For the director this is a very personal production: he suffered from anxiety disorder as a child, having witnessed a friend die at the age of eight.

And maybe for others who were unfortunate enough to have suffered, or witnessed, a childhood horror, the Guide to Sex and Anxiety may resonate deeply.

But for those wanting an escapist evening of entertainment, it was too distant and confusing to be anymore than somewhat pretentious and unpalatable.

Brighton Festival 2018 runs until Sunday 27th May. CLICK HERE for more info. 


 

by: Neil Williams




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