WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE: Young Vic
WHEN?: 16/9 runs to 19/9
The Young Vic prides itself on its flexibility and so seat configurations are rarely the same but the cheapest £10 seats for this production are in the gallery.
Song From Far Away is a 75-minute monologue written by Simon Stephens who we have mixed feelings about because we didn’t much enjoy the self obsession of the main character in his last work we saw (Birdland at the Royal Court starring Andrew Scott) last year.
Director Ivo van Hove carries greater expectations because we loved his much garlanded A View From The Bridge which originated at the Young Vic, we saw on its West End transfer and moves to Broadway this autumn. Although we weren’t so keen on his Antigone at the Barbican earlier this year. He’s also working on the new David Bowie musical.
Song From Far Away is the story of Dutch banker Willem returning home from New York exile after the death of his brother. The monologue is told in excerpts from Willem’s letters and we learn he is repressed and reluctant to explain how he feels to those closest to him but not necessarily why.
‘Why do we only appreciate the golden age when it is gone?’ is a key line and reflects the regret and vulnerability here. Unfortunately, the monologue device accentuates Willem’s self-absorption which was our main criticism of Birdland.
van Hove repeats the sleek, minimalist, simple and beautiful stage designs we have seen before but it is Eitzel’s beautiful and haunting music which gains this an extra *. Eelco Smits’ Willem spends much of the play naked which amplifies his vulnerability but he’s an anti-hero it’s difficult to root too much for.
The Young Vic’s seating configurations often change which means seats can be unreserved. £10 ticket holders can therefore be upgraded to the more expensive seats if they arrive early enough and there are gaps. For this performance, we were upgraded to the upstairs section and had a fine view.