REVUE DE PRESSE PRESS REVIEW - THE VALLEY OF ASTONISHMENT

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1 REVUE DE PRESSE PRESS REVIEW - THE VALLEY OF ASTONISHMENT Mise à jour le 15 Octobre 2014

2 LE MONDE Vendredi 9 mai 2014

3 LE FIGARO Vendredi 2 mai 2014

4 LES INROCKUPTIBLES Mercredi 21 mai 2014

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6 THEATER THEATER REVIEW A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Take for Granted By BEN BRANTLEY SEPT. 18, 2014 Everything comes wrapped in silence in The Valley of Astonishment, Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne s wonder-struck contemplation of the enigma of the human mind, which opened on Thursday night at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. A shimmer of stillness seems to surround every word spoken, every gesture made, every note sounded in this essayistic work about extraordinary sensory perceptiveness. What s created is not exactly a barrier between the audience and the stage, but what might be called a zone of thoughtfulness. An implicit request fills this silence: Think about how you think. Try to feel out, if you can, the way you feel. Long before mindfulness became the watchword du jour, Mr. Brook, perhaps the most influential of all living stage directors, was exploring theater as a means of magnifying the essential elements of daily existence and to find the vastness within. In an interview in 1995, he said his goal was to make audiences look at something they ve taken for granted since they were born, which is a mind, as if it were a great dawn or Everest. That was on the eve of the New York premiere of The Man Who, an adaptation by Mr. Brook s Paris-based Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks s best-selling collection of case histories of the neurologically impaired. The Valley of Astonishment might be regarded as a sequel of sorts to The Man Who. Like that earlier piece, Valley, which arrives here under the aegis of Theater for a New Audience after earlier incarnations in France and

7 London, uses a small cast of vibrant and polymorphic actors to create a gallery of exceptional lives. But it also makes more explicit a mystical current that has coursed through all of Mr. Brook s work of the past several decades. The title Valley of Astonishment comes from The Conference of the Birds, the 11th-century mythic Persian poem that Mr. Brook translated to the stage in the 1970s with the writer Jean-Claude Carrière. (The two would later collaborate on the immense Mahabharata, based on that ancient Sanskrit epic, and the marathon theater work for which Mr. Brook is best known today.) From its opening words A man went to Persia Valley uses phrases and passages from Birds to set off this production s accounts of latter-day lives afflicted by synesthesia, a condition in which the senses overlap and blur, so that music, for example, might be experienced as color. Brief, radiantly foggy fables, steeped in ambiguous wisdom, are counterpointed with the longer and more straightforward tales of the synesthetes. This marriage of the clinical and the mystical might be regarded as a kind of summing up of the sensibility at which Mr. Brook, who turns 90 next year, has arrived after more than 70 venturesome years in the theater. Yet the inclusion of the Persian elements seems almost superfluous in a production that has otherwise been pared of all excess. For even without these annotations from a fable, wonder is built into every element of Valley; it is its default point of view. You hear it in the ear-teasing music alternately solemn and skittering performed by Raphaël Chambouvet and Toshi Tsuchitori. And you always see it on the faces of the three cast members, Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Jared McNeill, who portray an assortment of people who have synesthesia and the doctors they consult. They all seem perpetually poised between pain and exaltation, bewilderment and revelation. Such a state of luminous perplexity suits the stories these people have to tell us. The singular Ms. Hunter (the British actress memorably seen last year as Puck in Theater for a New Audience s A Midsummer

8 Night s Dream ) portrays a woman of seemingly infinite and exact recall, someone for whom memory is a vivid, three-dimensional landscape. She becomes a nightclub sensation as a master of mnemonics but finds herself suffocating under a barrage of memorized names and numbers she can never erase. Mr. McNeill, the beguiling narrator of Mr. Brook and Ms. Estienne s The Suit, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last year, effectively uses his air of paradoxically easygoing anxiety as a painter who hears jazz as a symphony of colors. And Mr. Magni provides an exquisitely poised, physically thorough interpretation of a man with no conventional sense of equilibrium (or proprioception). The same actor gives us a deft portrait of a one-handed card trick artist. And the games of illusion he plays with audience members become a metaphor of sorts for the more confounding puzzles behind the stories of other characters here. There must be some explanation for the exotic ways these minds are rewired, as there is for the card tricks. We just can t quite grasp it yet. Valley savors the uncertainty. The various cognitive scientists and doctors embodied by the cast members are ultimately flummoxed by the behavior they witness. Behind their shared surface of professional confidence lurks the awe of people in the presence of a religious mystery. Mr. Brook and Ms. Estienne know that mysteries are usually diminished by literal representation. And the look of the show, as has been true of most Brook productions of recent years, is minimal to the point of Spartan. A fluid wash of changing colored lighting (designed by Philippe Vialatte), for a sequence in which Mr. McNeill s painter works while listening to jazz, is as close as we get to an externalization of an internal world. Otherwise, it s up to us to use our own fertile minds to try to embrace others that do not operate as ours do. Valley provides us with some highly accomplished guides, who point the direction, while describing the landscape of uncharted terrain. But Mr. Brook wants us to meet him more than halfway. Whether we make the full journey is up to us.

9 Follow our theater coverage on Twitter Like what you re reading? Get the latest theater reviews, videos, features, critic s picks and more delivered each week to your inbox. Sign up here. The Valley of Astonishment Written and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne; lighting by Philippe Vialatte; production stage manager, Richard A. Hodge. A C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord production, presented by Theater for a New Audience, Jeffrey Horowitz, founding artistic director; Henry Christensen III, chairman; Dorothy Ryan, managing director. At the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, at Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; , tfana.org. Through Oct. 5. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes. WITH: Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Jared McNeill (Actors) and Raphaël Chambouvet and Toshi Tsuchitori (Musicians). A version of this review appears in print on September 19, 2014, on page C11 of the New York edition with the headline: A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Take for Granted The New York Times Company

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12 The Valley of Astonishment review a treat for the senses S... The Valley of Astonishment review a treat for the senses Warwick Arts Centre and touring A celebration of people who experience synesthesia has 'the qualities of a Beethoven late quartet' Search Clare Brennan The Observer, Sunday 15 June 2014 Marcello Magni in The Valley of Astonishment. Photograph: Pascal Victor Sometimes there are conundrums (conundra?). I loved this new piece jointly directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne finding it intriguing, moving and unexpectedly funny. A woman sitting near me, though, did not applaud at the end. Moved? Disaffected? We talked. She didn't see the point. Yet we agreed we had seen the same things in it. The Valley of Astonishment Young Vic, London SE1 8LZ Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni, Jared McNeill A simple set: pale, square stage cloth on a black stage; wooden chairs and tables, pale against black drapes, cut across by a rectangular screen. Lights and music infuse colours. Raphaël Chambouvet's keyboards and Toshi Tsuchitori's esraj and percussion also score layers of texture. They and the three 1 sur 3 07/07/14 12:38

13 The Valley of Astonishment review a treat for the senses S... Directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne Starts 20 June 2014 Until 12 July 2014 More details performers create a tessitura of scenes around the experiences of people with synesthesia (an interlocking of the senses that means, for instance, that they may perceive sound not just aurally but also visually, as colour) and impaired proprioception (an inability to "feel" the body, resulting in paralysis). Glimmering through the whole are episodes from The Valley of Astonishment episode in the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds. Kathryn Hunter is Sammy, a "phenomenon" of prodigious memory, whose mind creates sound pictures that she cannot erase. Her story is the thread we follow. It crisscrosses the medical laboratory where doctors scan brains and fire questions, attempting to identify the sites of their subjects' extraordinary sensory experiences. It takes her on to the variety stage. Here, her state of being becomes a spectacle, on a par with the card tricks of a one-handed magician Marcello Magni confounding the senses of the real audience as he amalgamates sleight of hand with laughter. For Sammy and the "subjects", wonder, bewilderment, terror and ecstasy are shuffled through their lives. As Jared McNeill's doctor says: "How can we marvel at a mobile phone and not at the organism that is our body?" "But," said the woman, "it's not theatre! You could do the same thing in a more theatrical way." That doesn't take away from my impression of a performance with the qualities of a Beethoven late quartet: distilled essence of thought and feeling. And the conundrum? I firmly believe we are both right. More from the guardian Rolf Harris family's daily show of unity masked tensions 30 Jun 2014 The Crucible review full of raw, visceral power 04 Jul 2014 The Right Stuff: authenticity that's out of this world 02 Jul 2014 Clip joint: five of cinema's most memorable bullies 02 Jul 2014 More from around the web 2 sur 3 07/07/14 12:38

14 The Valley Of Astonishment, Young Vic, review: 'very special... The Valley Of Astonishment, Young Vic, review: 'very special indeed' Director Peter Brook's latest work is a spellbinding mixture of charm, curiosity and moments of deeper feeling, says Charles Spencer Moving: Kathryn Hunter in The Valley of Astonishment, directed by Peter Brook Photo: Alastair Muir By Charles Spencer 4:07PM BST 24 Jun 2014 At the ripe old age of 89, the director Peter Brook has lost none of his curiosity. He has pared his theatrical style down to a state of almost ostentatious simplicity and now seems to prefer the play of ideas to the flesh and blood of confrontational drama. I have sometimes found his later work both attenuated and pretentious, but this new piece is often spellbinding. As in his earlier production based on Oliver Sachs s book of case histories, The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, this work concerns the mysteries of the mind and interweaves several stories. The Valley of Astonishment, a phrase taken from the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds, here refers to the human brain, and its quirks and dysfunctions. Several stories are explored. Kathryn Hunter plays a woman with an astonishing memory 1 sur 3 07/07/14 12:24

15 The Valley Of Astonishment, Young Vic, review: 'very special... who can instantly recall long strings of random numbers and repeat complex conversations verbatim. Jared McNeill plays a man who sees colours when he listens to music, a condition known as synaesthesia, and uses the condition to make paintings. We also meet a man, played by Marcello Magni, who can only control his limbs by staring at them. When the lights go out and he can t see, he falls over. The same actors also play other characters, with Magni and McNeill particularly sympathetic as the neurologists exploring the condition of Hunter s character, who becomes a memory woman in a variety show. After initially enjoying the acclaim, she becomes desperate when she cannot delete all the facts in her head. The way in which she remembers information is fascinatingly similar to Benedict Cumberbatch s mind palace in Sherlock. She mentally posts information on the walls of familiar streets. All of this is presented with a mixture of charm, wit and curiosity that is highly engaging, and it is fascinating to see this famously highbrow director clearly relishing the showbiz element of Hunter s story, with jokes about lowly paid musicians and moments when members of the audience are invited on stage to take part in card tricks. And badly paid or not, the music performed by Raphaël Chambouvet and Toshi Tsuchitori is delightful. The diminutive, husky-voiced Hunter is particularly mesmerising as Sammy Costas the mnemonist, describing her amazing feats with matter-of-fact simplicity, but also genuinely touching when she becomes traumatised by all the useless information in her head. Jared McNeill captures the sense of wonder of synaesthesia as he describes turning the sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane into paintings and Marcello Magni proves a comic delight as a one-armed card shark. There are moments when one wishes the play would dig a little deeper into its characters, but there is a mixture of charm, curiosity and moments of deeper feeling in this piece, written and directed by Brook in collaboration with Marie-Hélène Estienne, that strikes me as very special indeed. One leaves the theatre echoing Hamlet: what a piece of work is a man and, of course, a woman too. Until July 12. Tickets: ; youngvic.org READ: 'Peter Brook is an exceptional human being' How we moderate Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited sur 3 07/07/14 12:24

16 EL PAIS (EDICION NACIONAL) MADRID 05/10/14 Prensa: Diaria Tirada: Ejemplares Difusión: Ejemplares Página: 41 Sección: CULTURA Valor: ,00 Área (cm2): 408,5 Ocupación: 43,23 % Documento: 1/1 Autor: MARCOS ORDÓÑEZ Núm. Lectores: Cód:

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