Und (2 stars)

This article is from 2011.


Tough play with the meaning stressed out

Howard Barker is a playwright loved by academics for the challenges thrown down by his knotty ‘theatre of catastrophe’ and by actors for the chance to get their tongues round his muscular language. His writing is tough, poetic and uncompromising.

It’s a shame, therefore, that actor Annette Chown does not seem able to trust Barker’s words to work for her. Instead, in this production by the Mechanical Animal Corporation, she performs in a punishingly emphatic manner, STRESSING every SECOND word SO it IS impossible TO make ANY sense OF the SCRIPT. It also means, after yelling her way through the most innocuous passages, she has nowhere to go when she is really angry.

Why she should be angry is consequently hard to fathom in this portrait of an aristocratic woman, deserted by her servants while some kind of crisis takes place beyond the walls of her home and the man she is waiting for does not arrive. You have to do your own research to find out she is a Jewish woman in denial about being under attack.

Tom Bailey’s production looks good with its swinging Perspex tables suggesting some ultra-fashionable designer interior, and there’s an interesting live soundscape. But all this counts for little when the central performance is so impenetrable.

C Soco, 0845 260 1234, until 29 Aug, 9.30pm, £10.50–£11.50 (£8.50–£9.50).


  • 2 stars

A derelict space. Teapots. Torchlight. A live soundscape. She sits. She pauses. She pours. She sips. He calls… One woman waits and waits for an unnamed figure, involved in wartime activity. Und is a full-on encounter with fanatical conviction and restless impulse, digging deep into the mind of a bizarre and enigmatic…


1. Jellywelly20 Aug 2011, 4:27pm Report

A different perspective.

I am not someone who follows a particular playwright or has any preconceived ideas about what to expect. I am not an academic. I am just ordinary member of the public who wants to expand her experiences in life when it comes to entertainment. Therefore, I choose to see this play/production when it was performed in Bristol.

I had never watched a one woman play or had I ever heard of a promenade performance and was intrigued to experience it. I am thinking of seeing this play, for a second time, during my visit to the Edinburgh Fringe 2011. I thought it would be good to see it in a different setting after having had a chance to reflect on what I saw the first time.

I was impressed that one actor could remember so many lines without prompts. If there was ‘stressing of every second word’ I was unaware of it as did not impact on my enjoyment of the play. I watched it with a group of friends and we all eagerly discussed it afterwards. We thought that you could draw your own conclusions about what was said and as to why things happened. We came to several different conclusions about some aspects of the play, including that of a Jewish woman in denial about being under attack. This was without any prior knowledge of the play.

We were all impressed with scenery and sound effects which really added to the experience as it that made us feel involved in the performance, albeit from a distance.

If you are expecting a play to be interpreted in a particular style then this may not be for you. If you have an open mind and want to see a different interpretation of a play by well known playwright then I would recommend it.

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