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UND by Howard Barker   

SPRING 1999

 

A woman waits for a guest. The guest is late. A tray of tea swings back and forth like a pendulum, counting the passing minutes. Time passes. The tea grows cold. Perhaps he is not coming? Perhpas he has abandoned her? She refuses to entertain any such idea and invents ever more elaborate excuses for him.

Suddenly, random acts of violence afflict the house. The door bell is rung maliciously, glass shatters, she smells smoke, orders fly back and forth. Still she imagines reasons to justify his absence and her own denial of the truth; that far from ignoring her, it is he who is attacking her home. Gradually we become aware that the woman is a Jew and her guest an officer at a camp.....

In a powerful, poetic and chilling depiction of misplaced hope, Howard Barker's intriguing play explores the extreme lengths we will go to in order to excuse the antagonism of others towards us as rational behaviour to protect our feelings.

UND is an intense study of self deception and manipulation for solo performer, here played by Melanie Jessop, also seen in The Wrestling School's productions of Judith and Victory. It was directed by Howard Barker himself, with a striking setting designed by the same team that created Ursula in 1988.

The production exploited the intense, dark poetry of the work, using the company's distinctive style. Speech, lighting, sound and stylised movement were orchestrated amid an interactive, machine-like set to create the mysterious other world of the text, drawing the audience into the atmosphere of mounting tension and intrigue...

 

"Howard Barker packs more into the slenderest play than most playwrights manage in an epic.." The Guardian

" an exhilarating poise between determination and terror. Thomas Leipzig's beautifully designed Newton's cradle.." The Times "

"..an intensely conceived production .... erotic, witty and typically challenging... a hot theatrical beverage that refreshes as much as it scalds....." Evening Standard

 

UND was a co-production with Derby Playhouse, Sheffield Crucible Theatre, and Plymouth Theatre Royal supported by the Arts Council of England and the London Arts Board.