Director: Katie Mitchell
Designer: Vicki Mortimer
Director of Photography: Leo Warner
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Composer: Paul Clark
Sound Designer: Gareth Fry
Cottesloe, July to October 2008
inspired by The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
adapted by Katie Mitchell and the company
You know, I can't understand how one can pass by a tree and not be happy about the sight of it. Think how many beautiful things there are at every step, things even the most wretched man cannot but find beautiful. Look at a child, look at the grass, how it grows, look at the eyes that gaze at you and love you...
A woman lies dead on a bed in her wedding dress, a silver knife through her heart. The two men who loved her lie beside her.
I don't understand even now how it happened.
This multimedia performance develops the use of live video seen in the ground-breaking production of Waves at the National Theatre in 2006/7. Waves returns to the Cottesloe from 20 August to 9 September in rep.
What's enthralling is the phenomenally complex technical game played by Mitchell's team, including Ben Whishaw as Myshkin and Hattie Morahan as the unhinged beauty Nastasya. ... some trace of her pushes to the boundary between theatre and full-on film-making. You're watching an art house movie being simultaneously shot, edited and projected on to the Cottesloe's back wall. It's playful and hauntingly beautiful, in silvery monochrome.
no other Brit is making multimedia theatre with Mitchell's world-class sophistication, except Complicite's Simon McBurney. Outstanding work in progress.
***** Independent on Sunday
Inspired by Dostoevsky's 1868 novel, The Idiot, the new show develops the techniques she deployed two years ago in her devised piece Waves. That production took a novel by Virginia Woolf, which consists entirely of inner monologues, and found a potent way of conveying its negotiations between external reality and the characters' streams of consciousness. It did this through a performance style in which there was an expressive split between the physical presence of the actors and the video footage created live by the cast, as though in a cross between a film and a radio studio, and replete with DIY sound effects, at every show.
The Idiot, by contrast, has plenty of plot, but it's the extreme states within it that interest Mitchell and her crack technical team – Leo Warner (director of photography), Vicki Mortimer (designer) and Paule Constable (lighting).
Suggestive of a heightened, off-the-scale awareness, there are hallucinatory images, including a fob-watch that becomes, when crushed in his fist, a handful of earth from which a flower hopefully springs, or soup in a bowl that turns into a wriggling mass of maggots. There's the constant sense of people who are living on the edge – I was often reminded of the line in TS Eliot's The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock: "as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen".
Is it theatre or film? Are the people onstage actors or technicians? In Katie Mitchell's phantasmagoric production inspired by Dostoevsky's The Idiot, the answer is both.
The production sees Mitchell and video artist Leo Warner deploy some of the same multimedia techniques they used in Waves, with actors scurrying around preparing scenes and images that are filmed live and projected on to an overhead screen.
a beautiful, sorrowful drama about characters fenced in by solitude and spooked by the imminence of death.
"Absolutely enchanting... uniquely pleasurable."
Germaine Greer, Newsnight Review (from approx. 19m into the broadcast)
"The video, in black-and-white... is of an extraordinarily high quality, featuring a number of impressive effects such as the live mixing of two camera feeds to make one image, and three side-by-side images appearing simultaneously. The fact that every tight focus shot is absolutely on target is a testament to the skill of director of photography Leo Warner and to the performers' well-drilled precision."
"We’re observing the crannies, corners and twisting corridors of people’s minds, the caverns and catacombs of their souls as they try to discover who they are, what they want, where they’re headed. In other words, a fragmented production gives us the fractured feel of Dostoevsky himself."
"This is a memorable evening of experiment, desire and sensual enjoyment."