Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – A Reimagining at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
For those familiar with Vivaldi and his violin concerti, this creation is a real treat for the senses. It’s rare the number of times a piece of work that has been used so often, both in theatre and in film, can be genuinely elevated and transformed into something else. This time, the reimagining of The Four Seasons adopts a more human form, involving the audience emotionally and mentally as the “quiet” storytelling happens.
There are not enough words to praise the work of art that the team of The Four Seasons performed last night at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The beautiful set design is dominated by golden colours, in what seems to be the interior of a room in a Baroque palace. On the stage are four, very tastefully designed, tables with curved forms, which the actors employ to draw the path of our characters and build the world they live in. Above them, a very talented group of musicians drive the 90 minutes along using violins and strings, from Spring to the more emotional and popular allegro for the Winter pieces.
In director Toby Olié’s words: “Our story echoes the seasons in that it’s about life, death and renewal (…) in a human lifecycle” and this is exactly why this reimagining feels so relevant and timeless. On a more emotional note, it is really surprising how all of the narrative is focused on this renewal theme and represented by puppets. The movements and the reactions feel so real that one forgets after the first ten minutes that there are people holding these figures and moving them around for the whole show. More than that, the actual human look of their faces shows how much work and dedication there has been behind creating these characters. A very good example of excellent craftsmanship where all the impurities have been polished to leave the human essence on a puppet form.
Puppets aside, Max Richter’s reimagining of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons enhances its contemporary tone, with his characteristic elegance and composition style, and without damaging the original material (as if anything can be damaged by Richter). For those who are classical music lovers, or not, this is a unique play that will make any evening feel hopeful and magical.
Photo: Steve Tanner
Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – A Reimagining is at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from 9th March until 21st April 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.