I scouted about the internet for some clue as to what The David Fragments could be about but to no avail. Now that I have seen it, I struggle to relay clearly what it was about. Where do I start?
First there is the subject matter: a young Bertolt Brecht and fragments from an early play, David.
Immediately I’m reluctant to carry on with this tack. It’s too obvious.
Watching a bit of Vin B late last night, there was a Fine Gael TD talking: ‘It’s about social housing, it’s about implementing changes, it’s about doing what we can with the resources available… ' He seemed to be explaining the government’s policy on the construction of new houses.
There is a rare and deliberate intellectual rigour at play in this piece.
So there’s the process of making the show. It takes a while, over a year. It involves research and the creation of a strong sense of the ensemble. There’s no guarantee that this will translate but it does. Any number of potential virtuoso performances are channelled for the greater good. There’s a comprehensive accountability in the action. This is evident in the deft details from the careful tenor of the speech, to the organisation of the stage, to the continual element of the right surprise, as well as allowing for some exquisite moments.
It’s about Brecht and what Brecht is about. And how the latter grows away from the former. However, to relay the complex origins behind Brecht’s work with a light hearted integrity and make something that rubs up against his considerable influence is quite an achievement. I was happily educated in the influences of the Bible, the contemporary culture of his time as well as his personal life. I didn’t feel lectured at, partly because of the clowns.
This show opens up a space, a space I’m still caught up in, in a sort of retrospective fascination.
I can’t help feeling I can only fail to do this show justice.
Go see it for yourselves.
Martin for DRAFF
The David Fragments is translated and directed by Nicholas Johnson and adapted for the stage by David Shepherd and the David ensemble. It runs at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin, until July 1st, and at the Greenwood Theatre, London, on July 18th.
Image: Kasia Kaminska
Posted: 29 June 2017