Friday, 11 September 2015

REVIEW - Song From Far Away, Young Vic


IT takes some balls to bare all on stage – especially when you are the only one on that stage and the period of nudity is for a good chunk of the play.
But that is what happens to Eelco Smits who stars as Willem in Simon Stephens’ latest play, Song From Far Away now on at the Young Vic.
At 75 minutes long this is a quiet meditative monologue on failure, love, emptiness, loss and grief that is both poignant and at times, laugh out loud funny.
Willem’s younger brother Pauli has died suddenly and Willem finds himself called back to his home town of Amsterdam after more than a decade living and working in New York.
As he makes the journey home he is forced to come face to face with his demons – those of a love affair that went wrong, his father’s disapproval and his feelings of failure as a son and brother.
These thoughts and feelings are brought out through a series of letters that Willem has written to Pauli which he recounts to his brother’s ghost whose presence hangs over the whole piece.
In these he speaks of the journey home, the reception he gets when he gets back, checking into a hotel to avoid being at home with the rest of his family, his feelings of alienation, his desire to escape the funeral and head back to America as soon as he can and having a brief one night stand with a man he picks up in an Amsterdam gay bar.
Through the letters his emotions are stripped bare – much as he himself is.
However, while it is an interesting story, I wasn’t sure it went far enough.
His escape to America is partly as a result of a love affair gone wrong, but we never find out why he didn’t get on with his brother or why he had such a difficult relationship with his father – and these are the things I wanted to know about and would have given the play more context.
But despite this, Willem is beautifully played by Smits and his story is well staged.

Song From Far Away is on at the Young Vic, The Cut until September 19. Tickets from £10. Visit or call the box office on 020 7922 2922.

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