Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

July 31-August 25

“Spare and stylish”

Johan Harstad’s Norwegian novel, on which this show is based, is all about the deliberate quest to be second best – to be ordinary. Mattias is obsessed with Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon.

In Charlotte Vandermeersch’s adaptation for Belgian young people’s theatre company Kopergietery, that central idea actually gets a bit lost. It’s a lovely adaptation otherwise – swift and touching, just not really about what it says it’s about.

Instead, we get a very sweet story about Mattias, his break-up with childhood sweetheart Helle, and his time in a strange halfway house on the Faroe Islands, where he finds a small community of friends.

In a spare production, Vandermeersch plays Mattias, standing in a red raincoat, getting rained on, while Karen Willemstad tinkers with all kinds of instruments at the side of the stage: toy drum, kalimba, synth – even a particularly foul sound from a tin can scraped along the strings of an autoharp.

The sounds seem to represent things inside Mattias’ head, but their apparent randomness is a bit grating, the ever-changing soundscape a distraction from Vandermeersch’s intense performance.

In the middle, however, is a stupendous cover of Take My Breath Away from Vandermeersch, a rare moment when Mattias stops being second and comes out firmly on top. Video design from Ann-Julie Vervaeke brings the chilly Faroes to life, too.

Although more of a Michael Collins than a Buzz, the show’s pared elements and its stylish visuals have no trouble evoking sad, desolate landscapes, both within Mattias’ mind and in the empty place he inhabits.


Related to this Review

What are the best shows of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019?What are the best shows of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019?

Production Details
Production nameJuly 31-August 25
VenueJuly 31-August 25
StartsJuly 31, 2019
EndsAugust 25, 2019
Running time1hr
AdaptorCharlotte Vandermeersch
ComposerAntoon Offeciers, Karen Willems
Book writerJohan Harstad
DirectorCharlotte Vandermeersch
Costume designerAnnelies Rasker
Lighting designerJeroen Doise, Stef Sessel
Sound designerKorneel Moreaux
Video designerAnn-Julie Vervaeke
CastCharlotte Vandermeersch
ProducerKopergietery, Richard Jordan Productions, Theatre Royal Plymouth
VerdictSpare and stylish adaptation of Johan Harstad’s novel about being second best
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In