French-Canadian director Robert Lepage is a master of avant-garde theatre. He shifted boundaries of form and performance when The Seven Streams of the River Ota opened at the National 1996. Critics were divided, veering between 'inventive' and 'masterpiece' to 'disgust' and 'disbelief'. Audiences were left reeling.
The show returns to the National Theatre for just nine performances in 2020. It explores the repercussions of the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima. It follows Jana, a 60-year-old Jewish-Czech photographer who has made her home in Japan.
The seven acts span 1945 to 1997 – and together they total over seven hours of performance time. As the show expands to explore the impact of nuclear war all around the world, dialogue is presented in English, French, German and Japanese with English subtitles. And the narrative goes well beyond Hiroshima in a study of human resilience that encompasses concentration camps to the Aids crisis.
There's no doubt it's an epic undertaking, broken up with two intervals, a 45-minute break and two pauses. But as Lepage takes us on a journey between continents and epochs, the show builds a dreamy, trippy quality that transcends time and space. Percussion, puppetry and mirrors create atmosphere and theatrical illusions; operatic singing, projected imagery and moving screens play upon perceptions of space. The result is as visually astonishing as it is formally inventive.
This new staging of the show marks the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima attack, in 1945, and is presented as part of a world tour.
Tickets for The Seven Streams of the River Ota at the National Theatre go on sale from 8:30am on Friday 11 October
|What||The Seven Streams of the River Ota, National Theatre|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
06 Mar 20 – 22 Mar 20, 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£30 - £125|
|Website||Click here for further information and booking|