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The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 3rd Jun 2018 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

If you like people watching then you've just missed the ultimate experience of your life - apart from being on the streets of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival!

For in what was the Royal Lyceum's biggest ever production, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other consisted simply of 450 characters talking a walk - and without a word being spoken.

It was staged over three nights, which is little time for something which has been in the making since January. But then it did involve nearly 100 volunteers from the Edinburgh community, so three nights was probably quite long enough for such an undertaking.

The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other was written in 1992 by award-winning Austrian playwright, novelist and political activist Peter Handke, who is regarded as one of the most original contemporary German-language writers, and is celebrated for creating performances uninhibited by conventional plot, dialogue and characters.

Translated by Meredith Oakes with abstract music by Michael John McCarthy, it certainly fitted the bill.

For just over an-hour-and-a-half all we saw were people walking across an empty stage. But it was so much more than that. The characters were from all walks of life and from all ages - from Moses holding up the tablet of the Ten Commandments, and Charlie Chaplin, to tradesmen, hikers, tourists, joggers, nuns and firemen. And through them we got to glimpse the lives of hundreds of people, some real, some surreal, some moving, some laugh-out-loud funny. A few were also able to flesh out their characters, such as the barman, and the super supple jogger who turned up often and must surely have a future in the theatre with his gift for mime.

We couldn't wait for the next character to appear. It was totally engrossing.

It must have been a logistical nightmare for director Wils Wilson and movement director Janice Parker, especially as the entire cast were amateurs. And sourcing the costumes would also have been a mammoth task. It looked like all the theatrical costumiers in the country had been raided!

But this prioduction will go down in history as one of the biggest shows the Lyceum has ever presented - in so many ways.


1 Comment

  • Elaine Pinkus
    by Elaine Pinkus 2 months ago
    Saw this some years ago at the National Theatre, London. A really interesting production and, like you, was intrigued by the different characters. Elaine
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