Review: Shore, Riverside Studios
Published in Time Out, 28.03.2011
For the son lugging around his father’s corpse like Mother Courage’s cart, death becomes a rite of passage in Lebanese-born Candian writer Wajdi Mouawad’s delicate epic. Learning of the death during the final few thrusts of a meaningless sexual encounter, Wilfred’s quest for a fitting burial becomes a journey of self-discovery. Grappling with the anxiety of adulthood proper, Wilfred imagines himself followed by knights and camera-crews, paralysed by self-imposed ideals.
However, Anne Khazam’s production fails to bore through the personal to the play’s big themes of nation and ancestry. In part, the problem here is contextual. Shore is underscored by Mouawad’s Lebanese heritage: hereditary responsibility hasn’t the same resonance in the UK. But Khazam’s staging, which trades in individual moments rather than a coherent whole, lacks the vocabulary to delve deeper.
It’s also tonally bipolar: po-faced one moment, goofy the next. Joseph Elliott’s Wilfred suits the fool better than the philosopher, but Mouawad’s play demands sincerity and here Shore is all at sea.
Photograph: Tristram Kenton