Shams, The Garden

Review in Issue 15-3 | Autumn 2003

The Garden is the second solo show by Lecoq-trained Jonathan Young. His one-man-one-skeleton show Sleeping Beauties grew out of work with mask-clown guru Sue Morrison, and in The Garden he is collaborating with Theatre O’s Carolina Valdes (director).

I enjoyed The Garden more than the first show, and felt that Young tackled well his difficult task of creating convincing multiple characters. The show looks good: leaves scattered on the floor, very little in the way of stage furniture; scenes such as an airport conjured up very effectively with a moment or two of video, a suitcase and a table. The videos of the Lost Gardens of Heligan were beautiful, and a garden the perfect focal point for a piece that investigated responses to death, war and family history. The aspects of the piece enjoyed less were the polemical tone of some sections – it is understandably difficult to resist this when dealing with subject matter such as massacred babies in Bosnia. We are so used to war reports and the recounting of terrible incidents that it is very difficult to really reflect on these experiences – like rabbits in the headlights we become frozen by the victims’ horror stories. The challenge is to take this difficult material and refashion it into something that makes us view things differently.

Working in collaboration with other artists is a good move when dealing with the challenge of creating solo work – but I feel that Young has yet to find the collaborating artist, director or dramaturg who can serve him best, to take his pool of ideas and skills and help him to transpose it to a complete and fully realised theatrical outcome. But I look forward to seeing where his explorations next take him…

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-3
p. 28