Nothing ever happens in Vanishing Point’s revival of their 2009 pan-European hit. Nothing out of the ordinary, anyway. As the title suggests, everything takes place behind closed doors in a one-room domestic setting, where a dinner party marks the end of darkness in a snow-bound Nordic terrain following the longest night of the year. Yet what emerges from such a seemingly hum-drum setting is one of the most remarkable pieces of drama to emerge from these climes for an age, and which is in turns hilarious, mesmeric and heart-rendingly poignant.
The set up is simple. Seven people join together at table, swap awkward social niceties, eat and drink too much, go through the motions of their party pieces, commit assorted gaffes and then leave, the ritual over for another year. Seen through the giant windows of Kai Fischer’s set and watched over by a spectral waif foretelling each character’s every little future, an everyday epic of life, death, disappointment and desire is the result.
Taking its starting point from playwright Maurice Maeterlinck’s notion of static drama, Matthew Lenton’s production, co-devised with the company and with minimalist dramaturgy by Pamela Carter, is at times as ridiculous as Come Dine With Me. Laughing turns to crying in an instant, however, and there’s much being said here about the body politic in terms of territory, personal space and being part of the crowd. There are times during the play’s woozy seventy-five minutes when those inside the house are as much left out in the cold as the girl outside in a play about mortality and the fleeting moments that matter in a world that keeps on turning no matter what.
The Herald, October 1st 2010