Fram – National Theatre 2008

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Thoughts: I quite like Tony Harrison’s rhyming verse. It’s clever, nice to listen to it as it journeys along. ..As for the production – I don’t know – where to begin.

About: From Westminster Abbey to the Arctic ship Fram – the story of the famous Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen who, in the 1890’s, with his suicidal companion, Johansen heads on foot for the North Pole. Later we follow his life as he is appointed to the League of Nations. As a figurehead of Russian famine relief in 1922, he stages the first celebrity campaign, searching for means, however shocking, to make people care.

Direction Staging Performance: This did not work very well; it was messy and long, though there was potential – in both story and verse – though it seemed to have missed in all directions.

The performances were generally good, especially Sian Thomas as Sybil Thorndike, though in amongst the videos, documentary, dance, theatre, poetry, revolving set they could do nothing but weave on through a rather complicated and frustrating production which was directed by the writer and designer (Tony Harrison and Bob Crowley) and here I am split – as I am not sure that the decision worked, but credit where credit’s due – I think allowing them the opportunity to do so was good.

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