Monday, 11 August 2008

Mykietyn's music in Edinburgh


Paweł Mykietyn is the next Polish composer Britten Sinfonia has commissioned: we will premiere his work in Krakow next March. I took the opportunity for a flying visit to the Edinburgh International Festival on Saturday to see TR Warsawa’s production of Dybbuk, for which he wrote the music. Well, hardly a flying visit: the high value of various metals leaves our fragile transport infrastructure vulnerable to the theft of signalling cable, and the whole of the East Coast mainline ground to a halt on Saturday morning after just such an incident. So a long, interrupted journey using umpteen train companies and one’s rather hazy geography of central England ensued, making it to Scotland only just in time for the show.
Dybbuk (based on a play by Szymon Anski and a short story by Hanna Krall and adapted by Krzysztof Warlikowski) is a dark tale with two interconnected strands: the suffering soul of a holocaust victim takes over the body of his American half-brother; and a woman is possessed by the spirit of her lover, and must choose between continuing this supernatural union and taking a living but unloved husband. In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a restless dead soul which inhabits a living person. The play works through decisions of whether to embrace or abandon the past.
Mykietyn’s music creates a powerful yet scary bridge between these overlapping stories: chilling, heartless but still hearfelt – has he, I wonder, written film music?
Read Benedict Nightingale's review in The Times.
There is another performance tonight – don’t worry if, like me, you don’t speak a word of Polish: the surtitles will get you through. Book online.

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