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Song From Far Away

Published 7 September 2015

What’s it all about?

Following the colossal success of his Mark Strong-led A View From The Bridge, Olivier Award-winning director Ivo van Hove has returned to the Young Vic with a stylish and emotionally complex one-hander Song From Far Away.

Like something out of a Fantasy Theatre League, the witty, dark and occasionally gut-wrenching monologue about one man’s grief following the sudden death of his brother brings together many a theatregoer’s theatrical dream team of van Hove and Britain’s much-celebrated playwright Simon Stephens.

Who’s in it?

Dutch actor Eelco Smits is the sole cast, but for the ghosts of family members, lovers and friends he vividly conjures in our imaginations, deftly delivering Stephens’ richly detailed journey through the complicated emotions of grief.

Moving from his New York office to Amsterdam, where he returns for the funeral, Smits takes us through seven days of rage, heartbreak, nostalgia and confusion. He gives a raw, naked – literally, and powerfully so, for the most part – and compelling performance; keeping your attention rapt for the 80 minutes he stands alone on stage, bitterly recalling his failings and revelling in his witty observations of the world around him.

What should I look out for?

Van Hove’s pace. His direction luxuriates in the words; slowing things to almost glacial speed at points, at others allowing Stephens’ words to bubble frantically from Smits’ mouth in emotionally spiked moments that reveal the true horror of the situation.

The director’s frequent collaborator Jan Versweyveld has once again worked his stunning, minimalist design magic with a set that lays Smits’ words bare but allows for a handful of moments of subtle aesthetic wonder.

In a nutshell?

The Young Vic brings together a theatrical dream team as Ivo van Hove directs Simon Stephens’ complex observation of grief, Song From Far Away.

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Will I like it?

If you’re a fan of either of these great theatremakers’ works, Stephens or van Hove, then Song From Far Away will provide plenty of food for thought. Gentle, slow and beautifully observed, the emotional journey Stephens’ character takes may leave you feeling unconnected to his sadness at points, but the stillness of Song From Far Away is ultimately stunning.

Song From Far Away is playing until 19 September. You can book tickets through the Young Vic Theatre’s website.

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