(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/29.)
1 The Destroyed Room
Taking its name from Jeff Wall’s famed photograph of a trashed bedroom, which appeared on the cover of a Sonic Youth album, this latest piece from Vanishing Point continues director Matthew Lenton’s obsession with how we watch. The show takes the form of a conversation between three comfortable white people and highlights the gulf between the realities of humanitarian disaster and our view of them from our armchairs. If that sounds a little dry, the show builds to a devastating climax.
2 Faith Healer
Brian Friel’s exquisite 1979 play is a work of both brilliant simplicity and swirling complexity that explores human frailty, self-belief and the nature of creativity. Taking the form of four monologues told by three people – the first and last from the faith healer himself, the others from his wife Grace and his manager Teddy – it pioneered a style that influenced a new generation of Irish playwrights, most notably Conor McPherson.
It’s doubtful that there is a funnier show on the London stage than Anthony Neilson’s piece. Former Doctor Who Matt Smith plays Maxim, a film director so intent on capturing the perfect light that he will stall his own movie by any means possible, including bringing in unreliable actor Ivan (Jonjo O’Neill), otherwise known as “the brute”. O’Neill is hilarious, but behind the laughter is a piece that explores the creative process and the way our days are spent chasing the elusive light – or moment – that we believe will make sense of everything.