Everything Else Happened
(Originally published here)
This adaptation of the short stories of Jonathan Safran Foer, whilst having moments of brilliance, ultimately comes short. The lead-up to the final (albeit wonderful) reveal is a little too long, and there are moments where the piece feels unjustifiably obtuse both in terms of writing and presentation. That said, the performance includes one of the best, almost silent, monologues that makes up for the first forty-five minutes – at least in part.
The piece is split into four monologues that seem unrelated but hold resounding significance when the common factor is revealed in the final monologue. It would perhaps have been helpful to have had some sort of indication of the information that links the four together, as the company are already trying many complex things with each section of text. Perhaps one less unknown earlier on would have made for a less confusing experience.
However, the piece has merit in its artistic decisions: there is a clever ongoing motif with people speaking from the dead through the medium of a tape recorder, and GIF-like projection which, although occasionally distracting, is used to its full potential throughout the piece. We hear monologues from an over-protective grandmother, a grieving husband, and an ageing magician, as well as the apparent spokesman for the family who presents a brief and beautiful explanation of the different types of silence that they all use in conversations.
It’s worth going to see this just for the last monologue – although the others too are interesting and well-acted, if not somewhat hastily delivered – but it comes too late to explain away the confounding format in which the information we are provided with in the former three is presented. This unfortunately detracts from the otherwise emotional tug that the piece attempts to effect.