‘The Notebook’ at the Traverse Theatre

  • The-Notebook-Forced-Entertainment_credit-Hugo-Glendinning2

Following their sell-out Festival Fringe performances, experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment are back in Scotland at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre with their critically acclaimed adaptation of The Notebook, based on the award-winning Ágota Kristóf novel of the same name, this September 17 – 19.

Set during WW2, The Notebook tells the story of a pair of twin brothers evacuated to their impoverished grandmother’s farm in order to shelter from the conflict. These unnamed children are social outsiders, mavericks who survive and understand the world by a harsh private code. As the war deepens, the brothers are slowly revealed as struggling moralists, trying to live by consistent principles in a Central Europe crumbling into cruelty and opportunism.

Directed by Tim Etchells, The Notebook is an unraveling knot of naïve logic, weaving dark and subversive humour from wartime hardships – concerning itself with questions of personal ethics and politics in the wider context of war, things which continue to be contemporary concerns in the world we live in today. Forced Entertainment performers Richard Lowdon and Robin Arthur stand side by side to tell the twins’ story in an unsettling and uncanny double act that traps two people in a single voice and a shared perspective. Kristóf’s bold and reduced narrational language provides the basis for a unique and compelling performance about the impact of war from the perspective of those caught in its machinery.

“A beautiful piece of writing… Arthur and Lowdon are excellent.”
Stage Talk Magazine

“This is the first time in its history that Forced Entertainment has adapted a novel for the stage – and the results are both relentless and hypnotic.”
The Stage

17 – 19 September | Scottish Premiere | Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Tickets and information: 0131 228 1404 | traverse.co.uk

Event Categories: Events and Theatre.Event Tags: drama and theatre.

1 review

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    Celia Jenkins, September 18, 2015 1:50 pm event - ‘The Notebook’ at the Traverse Theatre

    In the present climate of fear, suffering, desperation and resulting displacement particularly in Europe, this play has an increased relevance and poignancy. The two actors give a very powerful performance as twin boys who have had to be evacuated from a big town to the countryside in Hungary during World War 2. They are left by their loving mother with a grandmother who does not know them and who does not care about them. Here begins a series of events which were to change them and their world forever.

    What makes the performance so effective is the way in which the experiences of the twins are presented as a narration of their actual compositions in a notebook. It is as if the twins are one step removed from the events they have witnessed, events which clearly have had a very deep effect on them, not just physically but also psychologically and emotionally. It is the words, with their ‘matter-of-factness’, and their delivery that takes centre stage, not any elaborate staging and props. It reinforces the twins’ detachment from the world they live in and their suppression of the emotions they are trying so hard not to feel.

    I particularly liked how the dynamics changed when some of the notebook was told individually and some in unison. At certain points in the story there was an increased emphasis on the fact that there were two people with one single voice, one experience, one opinion. The humour plays a great part in underlining the absurdities and stupidity of the situations they find themselves in.

    There were one or two ‘dips’ where I began to think that the performance was getting too long. However, these were short-lived as events unfolded and I then wanted to discover what happens next. By the end of the piece, I really had a sense of how much such circumstances of violence and hardship affect the ‘marginalised’ victims of war – women, children and elderly. Places may stay the same, but the people are irrevocably damaged. Nothing will ever be the same.

    Seeing The Notebook has given me a lot to think about with regards to both the history and the present, as well as what it means for society as a whole when people are subjected to such harrowing events which no one should ever endure.

       -   Reply

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