Off-Broadway Theater Review: I AM THE WIND (59E59)

by Dmitry Zvonkov on January 16, 2014

in Theater-New York

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A WIND OF DISAPPOINTMENT

Having seen some months ago Paul Takacs’s outstanding staging of a two-character play called Tender Napalm, I was very much looking forward to watching his imagining of Jon Fosse’s enigmatic two-character play I Am the Wind (adapted into English by Simon Stephens). Unfortunately, as tight and inspired as his direction of Napalm was, that is how sloppy and unfocused it feels in his current offering.

Christopher Tierney  (front) and  Louis Butelli (back) star in Jon Fosse's I AM THE WIND, translated by Simon Stephens, directed by Paul Takacs and produced by The Shop, at 59E59 Theaters.  Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima

What the play I Am the Wind is really about is open to interpretation and ultimately only revealed in its staging; like all good plays its essence is fluid. On the surface it’s about two guys in a small sailboat who take a day trip out to the sea. Who they are, what their relationship is, the timeframe in which the story takes place, the chronology of events, even whether or not they are in fact two separate people is ambiguous. The answers to these questions are to be found with the director and his vision; sadly Mr. Takacs’ vision feels superficial and dull. But in fairness to him that impression might have been created by the numerous other problems with the show.

R-L: Louis Butelli and Christopher Tierney  star in Jon Fosse's I AM THE WIND, translated by Simon Stephens, directed by Paul Takacs and produced by The Shop, at 59E59 Theaters.  Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima

Christopher Tierney, who plays The One, appears on stage revved up to the max – a tortured young man full of existential pain. Sadly his performance lacks center and nuance; he looks like he’s acting, and badly. Louis Butelli, who plays The Other, finds a little more to do with his character, but he too seems not to know where he came from or where he is going. It’s true that the two guys on the boat might not know this, but the actors playing them certainly need to. On a near empty stage, save for a hawser, Misters Tierney and Butelli in their mime work can’t even seem to agree on the size of the boat they are in, not on its design nor its motion. They each mime the act of drinking differently, which doesn’t make sense. Never is there a sense that these two are anywhere but in a tiny theater.

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The whole production looks more like an early rehearsal than a finished show. Amanda Shafran’s costumes make the performers look like Williamsburg hipsters, which is misguided. And Steven C. Kemp’s set design – fabric hanging on the walls meant to suggest wind or sails – just looks haphazard and lazy.

R-L: Louis Butelli and Christopher Tierney  star in Jon Fosse's I AM THE WIND, translated by Simon Stephens, directed by Paul Takacs and produced by The Shop, at 59E59 Theaters.  Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima

photos by Cherylynn Tsushima

I Am the Wind
The Shop
59E59 Theaters
scheduled to end on January, 2014
for tickets, call (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org

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