riverrun @ Traverse Theatre

Finally nature is able to speak for itself. In riverrun at the Traverse Theatre, Olwen Fouéré takes the voice of the river Life from Finnegan's Wake, words spilling softly from her mouth as she embraces the river in all its glory.

Review by Perrine Davari | 18 Aug 2014
  • riverrun @ Traverse Theatre

If nature were able to articulate words, what would it say, what would it sound like? As riverrun opens at the Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh Festivals 2014, we are given a glimpse into the mind of the environment.

Olwen Fouéré personifies herself as the river in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, and is completely engrossed in her role as she passionately embraces the emotions of the river Life, transitioning from her river-form into part of the great ocean. Certainly original, the audience will be taken aback as they witness the river come to life in human form with airily spoken words and unblinking excited blue eyes.

While there is no doubt that the actress is wildly talented, the entire concept of the play is incomprehensible to the average audience member. It would be spectacular to watch for any fan of Fouéré or of Joyce, but otherwise it is simply an enigma as the words wash over one another. Much like a river, the dialogue changes swiftly and the dictation flows rapidly from one sentence to the next. Unfortunately, the river falls too fast for it to be comprehensible.

For those who fear that they are not hearing the same language as everyone else, it is advised that they sit calmly back down in their seats and let the melodic tones of Fouéré’s voice calm their nerves. You need not understand: let the poetry of nature wash over you.

riverrun, Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1), Edinburgh, Until Sun 24 Aug, times vary, £19.00. http://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/407/riverrun.aspx