Minimalism vs The Kitchen Sink

Last week I saw Fragments at the Young Vic, a programme of short Beckett pieces directed by Peter Brook.  In Rockaby Beckett specifies one thing – a rocking chair – and Brook does it without a rocking chair. That’s about as minimalist as you can get.  At the other extreme, Keith Warner’s Ring is so over-stuffed with images, whether appropriate or not, that it bursts at the seams.  He puts a crashed aeroplane in the middle of the stage for Siegfried and then makes every possible visual reference to it he can think of.  In the process of spending all his time (and vast amounts of money) thinking up and executing (often ineptly) all this imagery, he forgets to direct the singers, who flap around without any focus.  If Peter Brook is old hat and Keith Warner is “post-modern” (that over-used word that covers just about anything you want it to), I know which I prefer.  Give me actors over sets any time.

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