Review: Flights into Darkness: Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, Oxford

Tom Frankland (actor) and Jakob Fichert (piano)

Oxford Daily Info 30.03.2009

Based on Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray and supposedly taking it’s name from Flight into Darkness by Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler, Flights into Darkness is a highly original production devised by Tom Frankland, Jakob Fichert and Robert Fokkens that combines both musical and spoken dramatics.

Whilst Pianist Jakob Fichert seats himself at the grand piano stationed on one side of the stage, Tom Frankland marches to centre stage and launches almost immediately into a booming philosophical monologue of the sort that Wilde was renowned for. This set up remains in place throughout the piece as Frankland weaves his animated way between the works of both Wilde and Schnitzler with such power and stage presence that it is almost impossible not to be completely enthralled by his performance. As for Jakob Fichert, he succeeds in keeping up with Frankland’s fast-paced ranting and also the more pensive moments and sets the atmosphere with his piano accompaniment, which serves to dial up and then relieve tension whenever necessary.

As Flights into Darkness is a collaborative piece of music and drama, the musical score itself plays an integral part. Fokkens’ original score compliments the production perfectly, signalling the dripping blood from one imagined victim before rushing into panicked movements as Frankland’s character descends into madness.

...At one point, Frankland leaps from the stage and charges into the audience, as Fichert stands from his seat, thus turning the theatre into a courtroom, the audience into jury members and Fichert into a judge as Frankland stands on trial for murder. Although this imaginative use of the audience is very pleasing, it does come as quite a surprise and leaves one wondering what exactly is going on with the plot!

All in all, the sheer originality and guts of the piece make it well worth seeing...