Everyman (Faber Drama)

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Everyman (Faber Drama)

Everyman (Faber Drama)

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Caledonia, Cymru, East Midlands, North East, Northern Ireland and the South West bring the voices of their regions. From a dramaturgical point of view, there is not much to the fifteenth-century morality play Everyman.

This debauched and decadent scene set to synchronised coke-snorting and techno-music, he is told, will be his last. Home to William Golding, Sylvia Plath, Kazuo Ishiguro, Sally Rooney, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Max Porter, Ingrid Persaud, Anna Burns and Rachel Cusk, among many others, Faber is proud to publish some of the greatest novelists from the early twentieth century to today. While Ev’s lifestyle is clearly, as the play also demonstrates, not all humankind’s, it does point towards Duffy’s universal enemy: a corporate world that glorifies individualism and risky choices, hones materialistic desires and, most importantly, creates in its inhabitants a complete lack of responsibility. One of the great primal, spiritual myths, Everyman asks whether it is only in death that we can understand our lives. Sex, drugs, walking piles of garbage, and neglected parents make up the urban twenty-first century landscape of the Poet Laureate’s modern, but still rhyming, script.Everyman is brilliantly portrayed by 12 years a Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor, a bold if welcome and excellent choice; Kate Duchenne as God is an invisible (and hence omnipresent) sweeper and woman. But in this journey, the characters he encounters become agents and situations that resonate with topical significance and urgency – the fast pace of corporate lifestyle, the dissolution of the nuclear family, and environmental disasters.

God is here merged with the figure of Good Deeds and embodied by Kate Duchene as a cleaning-woman with Marigolds and bucket. Didn't care for Carol Ann Duffy prior to the play, had to study so much of her poetry in school, but what a clever and unique adaptation.She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in May 2009. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian View image in fullscreen Chiwetel Ejiofor in Everyman, adapted by Carol Ann Duffy, on the National’s Olivier stage. Duffy’s poetry is underscored by William Lyons’s eclectic music and faithfully realised by Norris’s virtuosic production that captures both the frantic dizziness of a money-driven world and the beckoning finality of death.

While not quite having the instructive edge of the morality play form, this production of Everyman nonetheless does have its didactic elements, arranged in long (and mostly environmentalist) spiels that remind us of a basic lesson: that actions have, often irreversible, consequences.

Lastly, the author sprinkles the play with a good deal of humour, especially with the character of Death. There is a potential problem in seeing a rich tosser in the high-income bracket as a modern Everyman but Duffy solves it by suggesting he symbolises our indifference to the future of the planet. God, as the character herself says, and religion come and go like all ideologies, but this is a lesson for eternity. Everyman’s prime sin also lies not so much in seeing money as solution to any problem as in ignoring ecological reality. The most extraordinary moment in Norris’s production comes when Ian MacNeil’s design, Paul Anderson’s lighting and Paul Arditti’s sound combine to simulate the effect of a tsunami.

National Theater Live subscription 8: This was so directly in my wheelhouse it is the whole damn wheelhouse.

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  • EAN: 764486781913
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