Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Forced to return to the place he had long since abandoned due to the sudden and untimely death of his brother, bereaved, nomadic banker Willem (Will Young) controls all that he can in this bitter-sweet monologue by playwright Simon Stephens and singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel
Where Willem is sarcastic, superficial and shallow his brother Pauli was artistic, musical and rooted firmly in the very heart of his family in Amsterdam. Willem moved to New York 12 years prior for a life of seeming anonymity and preferred disconnect. Reconnecting with his old life is neither embraced nor welcomed. Invitations are ignored while communication with anyone other than his late brother in the letters that he writes feels forced and misunderstood. He is a complex character, displaced both physically and emotionally yet draws you into his introspective world effortlessly.
We learn so much about him through this 80 minute piece, his complicated relationship with his parents, his regret over a lost love, yet it’s his surprising affection for his niece Anka, which truly gives us hope that relationships won’t always be impossible for Willem, indicating that this is a piece much more about living than dying.
The simple staging of the faceless hotel suite is given depth by the movement of tall billowing curtains while the lowering and raising of the ceiling adds at times to the feelings of claustrophobia and intensity. The smattering of snowfall beyond the confides of the suite midway through hints almost at a euphoric feeling of hope, just out of reach.
Will Young is entirely captivating in the role, commanding the attention of the audience effortlessly. The source material doesn’t leave room for sentimentality despite dealing with the loss of a sibling, making the moments of song and melody all the more poignant, cathartic in their delicate simplicity and delivered note perfect by Young. His performance feels intimate, authentic and real.
Director Kirk Jameson’s choice to set the piece several years after the passing of Pauli offers an opportunity of self-reflection, rediscovery and most importantly hope. This intimate and beautifully delivered piece will stay with you long after the curtain call.
Song From Far Away is on at HOME until Saturday 11th March tickets available here.