But in Natalie Abrahami’s revival, it’s really the strong visual language that truly soars, often communicating what lies beyond the limits of speech. With the formidable Juliet Stevenson as Emily, Wings is an arresting, poignant, and mostly elevating glimpse into the reality of a stroke survivor.
Stevenson is nevertheless spectacular. She seamlessly unites her physicality with her long streams of speech, often fueled by anxiety, fear and anguish. She portrays a strong-willed, resolute Emily who is determined to understand her new world order, and finds solace and comfort in Amy (Lorna Brown), her speech therapist. Brown immediately and brilliantly radiates a warmth and calmness that contrasts well with the cold and clinical performances of the ensemble.
Michael Levine’s sleek, subtle, yet dynamic set is also almost a character in its own right. A rectangular white platform moves side to side with white scrim curtains occasionally projecting saturated chains of images. It cleverly designates a movement through time and space that Emily is sometimes a part of and other times not. It shows her relationship with the outside world and becomes a runway for her to either to take off or emergency land. And as Emily’s world aligns more with her outside surroundings, real furniture rich in colour (including Holly Waddington’s costumes), begin to adorn the otherwise minimal and muted set.
Even with such bold visuals, Wings occasionally drifts away. Kopit’s script introduces ideas, like Emily’s initial conspiratorial theory about the hospital, that are simply left hanging. And the persistent references to Emily’s days as a pilot, which culminate in a beautiful but somewhat predictable final sequence, drag down an otherwise brisk hour-long play.
That being said, Abrahami distinctly and adeptly colours this revival by demonstrating the multiple and diverse methods in which we can communicate. With innovate design and with Stevenson as the pilot, Wings cannot help but lift off.
|What||Wings, Young Vic review|
|Where||The Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, London, SE1 8LZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
14 Sep 17 – 28 Oct 17, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £38|
|Website||Click here to book via the Young Vic Theatre|