Reviews: Written On The Waves cover photo

Reviews: Written On The Waves

Reviews: Written On The Waves cover photo

Rafaella Marcus’ 'The You Play' is less like listening to a play than it is like falling inside one.

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Written on the Waves

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It is part of Written on the Waves, an audio project delivered by 45North and Ellie Keel Productions. Guided by the voice of Katherine Parkinson, ** The You Play** takes the passivity out of the listening experience as it places you at the very heart of stories about jealousy, loss, anxiety, isolation and self-worth.

Marcus’ The Gift, already online as part of the series, is a tiny winking gem that suggests that maybe we don’t get a choice in the ghosts we see and we always see the ghosts we need. ** The You Play** is a ghosted affair too about something lost, haunted by the narrative and spirit of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (useful if you know it, but not essential) which in its turn is shrouded in fairy tales about kings, lost children, the possibility that the dead can come back to life.

Marcus refashions and repurposes The Winter’s Tale for our own times — entwining stories into its delicate filigree to tell of the fear of love and not being loved and how insecurity breeds jealousy and emotional tyranny. It is an accumulation of loss and tiny, sharply observed moments, and it comes flecked with the loneliness of our lives since March.

The writers of the Written On The Waves showcase season.

There are a series of connected and unconnected vignettes: the couple seen on the daily walk in the park who suddenly become a singleton; the fears of never being a good enough parent or lover, jealousy buzzing like an angry wasp when a couple of friends get together, the spiders that run wild in your head at the fear of betrayal, the ongoing isolation that means “the thought of touch makes you feel sick with fear.” Love here is a source of both succour but also anxiety, as if even when most in love and beloved we are in a constant state of anxiety that it will all end, that we don’t deserve our good fortune.

All this would be interesting enough alone, but Marcus — amply aided by director Jessica Lazar and brilliant sound designer and editor Dinah Mullen — goes further by placing the listening at the very heart of the story, making us an active participant. You don’t have to join in, but if you do it heightens the experience, and the cleverness of some of the tasks you are set (perhaps like tasks in a fairy tale) means that you become a collaborator so that other people’s stories start to feel like your own.

It’s a little thing, but a truthful, bluntly honest one, and it operates like a magical act of transference, one that heightens empathy, rivets attention and reminds that inside we are all swirling changing versions of Leontes, Hermione and Perdita, all lost in different ways and all feeling the pain.

You can listen to all the pieces created as part of Written On The Waves here

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Lyn Gardner
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