Sunday, March 29, 2015

3 winters

3/5 rating
3 Winters | National Theatre

K and I watched 3 Winters at Lyttleton before we watched Dara. But it just took me a long time to collect my thoughts on the unfamiliar. 
For most part, the set is just one living room, except shown across three winters, decades apart in Zagreb, Croatia. The play alternates between these three winters, one set in early communist era post the second world war when Rose takes possession of this house that the rest of the play is set in. She takes the house where her mother used to work as a maid and who was turned away with the then two year old Rose, to spite fate. The play then goes forward to when Croatia is in turmoil during the fall of the Soviet Union fighting for its independence then forward again to the privatisation of Croatia and the equality of all replaced with capitalism and it's exploitation.
The play alternates between these three winters and the same living room is altered every time to the detail to maintain the differences in the times. Old Caroline, the daughter of the original master of the house, keeps muttering that the house should stay within the family. And it does. Such love we have for property and how we build our securities and identities into it brick by brick.

I don't know much about Croatian history and I must accept it might have been more powerful to me if I did. But I do believe the play could have done better in terms of explaining the social and political situation. And something more innovative than the projection of chaotic colourful images on the stage with the set already on it. (Since the play already has a clear timeline on it's website, may be that could have been projected instead?) While I should have read up on Croatia before going to the play, it helps for the director to remember the play is set in Zagreb but not its audience.
The second winter is the one after the fall of the Berlin Wall in the churning Soviet Union, where Croatia is trying to find its identity and independence. Rose is long dead and her grandchildren continue living in the house even as some portions of the house have been given to others. Here is where to some extent I've lost the plot as to who they support or how that support breaks up marriages and if that is what the play was trying to convey.
Apart from the storyline being very subtle for a foreigner, the play was impeccable. Acting was amazing, my favourite being young Lucia, and the distinct transformation of young aloof Lucia into possessive adulthood as any young Croatian to uphold the identity of the country with such passion equalling that of her great grandmother's to own what is hers by right from the clutches of her oppresses was so brilliantly done. The struggle of Croatia through history unfolded beautifully in the generations of women from one family in one living room. Though, a couple of times I felt the alternating time line was a tad too confusing for the audience and a little unnecessary.

PS: while we watched 3 Winters, the entire set of Dara was lying to one side of the stage, hidden from view. And this living room was at the back of the stage when it was replaced with the Mughal courtyard of Dara.

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