BritishTheatre

Published on

April 29, 2017

REVIEW: Paul Auster's City Of Glass, Lyric Hammersmith ✭✭✭✭

By

markludmon

Book tickets for Paul Auster's City Of Glass

Mark Edel-Hunt as Daniel Quinn and Jack Tariton as as Stillman in Paul Auster's City Of Glass Paul Auster's City of Glass

Lyric Hammersmith

Four stars

Book Tickets

When the first book in Paul Auster's New York Trilogy was published in 1985, it was an instant best-seller, a dazzling literary labyrinth where identity and levels of reality intersect and blur. City of Glass subsequently became a graphic novel by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli which, with the original, has inspired a stage adaptation that attempts to capture the meta-fictional structure and nightmareish story through projection and stagecraft. Premiering at Home in Manchester, it has now transferred to the Lyric Hammersmith with the same cast and creatives.

Paul Auster's City Of Glass at Lyric Hammersmith

Chris New as Daniel Quinn in Paul Auster's City Of Glass

The track record of adapter Duncan Macmillan is promising, from his disorienting and gripping People, Places and Things to his innovative exploration of George Orwell's 1984. With Paul Auster's City of Glass, he has collaborated with 59 Productions and director Leo Warner to create a show that is visually impressive but keeps the audience at a distance with its technical brilliance.

The narrative starts conventionally enough in the style of a film noir, where Daniel Quinn, the writer of hard-boiled crime novels, gets a mysterious phone call in the night that leads him to take on the role of a detective. It takes him into the world of New York's wealthy elite where a seductive femme fatale employs him to protect her vulnerable husband, Peter Stillman, from his sociopathic father. But this is just a premise for a more complex exploration of identity that draws Paul Auster and his wife Siri into the story and suggests parallels with another literary character sharing Quinn's initials, Don Quixote.

Book tickets for Paul Auster's City Of Glass

Mark Edel-Hunt, Jack Tariton and Vivienne Archeampong in Paul Auster's City Of Glass

To drive this home, Macmillan has cleverly split Quinn's role between two actors who also play Auster and the overall Narrator. This adds filmic pace as the same character switches from scene to scene without moving through tricks of the light but also brings extra layers to the fracturing and interaction of identities. Chris New and Mark Edel-Hunt are flawless in their performances, well supported by Jack Tarlton as both Peter Stillman and his father and Vivienne Acheampong in all the female roles including the wives of both Quinn and Auster.

The star of the show is the projections that transform the canvas of Jenny Melville's set into Quinn's apartment, the Stillmans' wood-panelled home, Grand Central Station, a murky alley and several other scenes as well as illustrating elements of the story. Taking inspiration from the graphic novel, these phenomenal effects are thanks to a team of video specialists and animators headed by video designer Lysander Ashton, enhanced by lighting designer Matt Daw, sound designer Gareth Fry and the atmospheric music of Nick Powell. As an added extra, you can journey inside Peter Stillman's crazed mind with a virtual-reality experience available through Oculus Rift headsets in the foyer before and after each performance, created by some of the same team plus the voice of Joshua James.

Book now for Paul Auster's City Of Glass at Lyric Hammersmith

Mark Edel-Hunt, Jack Tariton, and Vivienne Acheampong in Paul Auster's City Of Glass.

The show is worth seeing for the cutting-edge visuals alone but, while it stylishly captures much of the theme and substance of the novel, it is lacking in emotional engagement - something that could also be said about Auster's New York Trilogy. It certainly made me want to go back to the original where perhaps its literary playfulness is most effective.

Running to May 20, 2017. Photos: Jonathan Keenan

BOOK TICKETS FOR PAUL AUSTER'S CITY OF GLASS

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The British Theatre website has been established to celebrate the rich and diverse theatrical culture of the United Kingdom.  Our ethos revolves around encouraging and nurturing the performing arts in all its forms. The spirit of theatre is very much alive and the British Theatre website is at the forefront of delivering news and information to audiences and enthusiasts everywhere. Our team of theatre journalists and reviewers are working hard to cover productions and news.


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ABOUT BRITISHTHEATRE

BritishTheatre.com
Opening Night Media Ltd
3rd Floor, 80 St. Martin’s Lane
Covent Garden
London WC2N 4AA

The British Theatre website has been established to celebrate the rich and diverse theatrical culture of the United Kingdom.  Our ethos revolves around encouraging and nurturing the performing arts in all its forms. The spirit of theatre is very much alive and the British Theatre website is at the forefront of delivering news and information to audiences and enthusiasts everywhere. Our team of theatre journalists and reviewers are working hard to cover productions and news.


We are constantly developing the site and are always open to receiving feedback from our readers. Join our mailing list to be kept informed of all the latest news that is of interest to you..