Solitude

Home Theatre, Manchester; Friday 19th January, 2018

Solitude

 

Everybody in this world is lonely. The friends and family who surround you are not who you think they are, none of them are truly interested in you – ultimately these people are only there to prevent their own loneliness.

It’s hard to disagree with the unkind but ultimately sound logic being put forward by the Dorna Arts Group – a Manchester-based production company working to promote Iranian arts to audiences around the North West.

Solitude is a tough and uncompromising portrayal of the despair resulting from the effects of loneliness, or is it perhaps the effects of incorrectly perceived loneliness?

The hour-long performance comprises of two acts. In the first of these a middle-aged man opens up a heated dialogue with his deceased father. Both father and son exchange insults, neither seems to back down, hence nothing is resolved. In the second act a young woman dances, looking for positive affirmation from her admirers; she too opens up a dialogue, but this is with the childhood doll on her dressing table, once again an intangible nemesis confounds the suffering of loneliness further.

The performance is delivered entirely in Persian – a smoothly flowing and almost poetic language that somehow seems to be very well suited for use in performance art. The songs are especially beautiful, there is no need to understand the words in order to feel the raw sense of sadness and despair.

Despite this, the English translation of everything being sung and spoken is projected onto the back wall of the theatre. This is very much needed as Solitude isn’t quite an example of artistic / physical theatre that can be interpreted, there is a need to understand what is being said. But it’s worth it, because even in translation the beauty of the original Persian phrases comes across, with a battery of magnificent one-liners such as “I wish to be the tree adorned with a thousand singing birds”.

Ultimately, Solitude isn’t the happiest of shows, there’s no avoiding the fact that the subject matter is obviously quite bleak. But seeing an undesirable concept being rendered in a foreign language and with an alternative cultural viewpoint is actually quite fascinating. Solitude sheds a tiny bit of new light from a slightly different angle, and in doing so reveals that maybe the fear of loneliness is worse than the solitude itself.

 

Summary

Performance aspect Comments Score
Visual pleasure A simple and basic set, but surprisingly appealing, especially the use of props to focus attention. 3
Auditory pleasure Script and songs delivered in Persian, with accompanying music. A beautiful and pleasing language to listen to, despite not understanding a word of it. 4
Architecture & Theme Two short acts, both portraying different kinds of loneliness. Not the most uplifting subject for entertainment purposes, but it works. Interpreting the loneliness becomes an analytical exercise, exactly like interpreting the words being projected onto the back of the stage. 3
Artistic delivery Both acts were well performed and engaging. Listening to the performers speaking in an unfamiliar  language forced a more intense and attentive connection to be made. 3
Overall impact Summary feelings are mixed: sadness and despair at the portrayed depictions of solitude; but also some frustration that perhaps neither portrayed victim was really as alone as they thought they were. 3
Final Score: 3.2

 

Scoring Scheme

0 Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse
1 Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor
2 Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special
3 Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way
4 Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive
5 Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.

 

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