The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other for the 100 strong cast of this new production at the Lyceum must have been the hour before they started rehearsals for this splendid Peter Handke play which has an all too brief run at the Lyceum until June 2nd.
This must not be the last we see of this play. If Fergus Linehan is looking for inspiration for next yearâ€™s Festival he should give serious consideration to the homegrown talent shown in this production.
Directors Wils Wilson and Janice Parker share the credit for this theatrical spectacle, which also owes everything to the music of Michael John McCarthy, the composer and sound designer for this piece.
Itâ€™s essentially people watching, that eternal favourite pastime of watching the world wag by. Performed by local Edinburgh residents, chosen for their enthusiasm and willingness to rehearse in their spare time to pull this piece together, we see an unfolding of Everyman, in different situations, throughout different times in history. There are joggers and drunks and soldiers and lovers and pharaohs and prophets and tragedies and celebrations. Itâ€™s a glorious potpourri of mankind, striding, marching, gliding their way through fun and funerals, parades and pastimes.
The music carries us along, underpinning the whole flowing movement of the piece. Our human triumphs and tragedies are here. Drawn by the light, crushed by our frailties, our vulnerability is poignantly shown to be as ephemeral as a butterfly – the final fluttering symbol of this play.
Set designer Fly Davis and lighting designer Kai Fischer keep the mood varied and vibrant. We end on a backstage note, as the cast, after the final curtain call, go behind the set to their costumes and props, there for us to see. All the men and women are indeed merely players on the great stage of life. But what magnificent players, and how bonding such an experience must have been to come together in such a challenging project.
Not a word is spoken apart from one mystical incantation, and yet this play speaks volumes. Itâ€™s a triumphant end to a very enjoyable season at the Lyceum.
Lyceum Theatre until June 2nd.
(Moira Berry is pictured)