‘Obsession’ by Toneelgroep Amsterdam

From the announcement in the Newsletter :

Starring Jude Law and directed by Ivo van Hove, stage adaptation of Ossessione, a film which gave rise to a cinematic movement.

We have secured a limited number of tickets for the play Obsession, directed by Ivo van Hove and starring Jude Law, together with members of Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The play, which will have its world premiere in the Barbican Theatre, is based on the 1943 film ‘Ossessione’ by Luchino Visconti.

Jude Law plays the magnetically handsome, down-at-heel Gino in this new stage adaptation of Visconti’s penetrating social drama.

Drifter Gino, powerful and graceful as a puma, encounters Giuseppe and his much younger, trapped wife Giovanna at their roadside restaurant and petrol station. He and Giovanna are so irresistibly attracted to one another they begin an affair while plotting to murder her husband. But the crime does not unite them in this chilling story where passion can lead only to destruction.

Ivo van Hove said:
“It’s very exciting to bring British actors and specifically Jude Law together with actors from our Toneelgroep Amsterdam ensemble for the first time. Obsession is a raw and timeless tale about idealised love and its fleeting nature. Major themes that resonate for all time which I am looking forward to staging at the Barbican, a venue I consider to be our London home.”

Jude Law said:
“I’d heard great things about Ivo van Hove and when I saw ‘A View from the Bridge’ at the Young Vic and then ‘Antigone at the Barbican’ I knew he was someone I really wanted to have the oppor­tunity to work with. And now I can’t wait to return to the Barbican, where I performed 22 years ago with the RSC, to take on the role of Gino, immortalised in the 1943 classic, Ossessione by Luchino Visconti, whose films I adore.”

Obsession is van Hove’s fourth Visconti production. It is performed in English and brings together for the first time members of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam ensemble and British actors, led by Jude Law. His charismatic stage and screen performances have established him as one of the foremost actors of his generation.

From Ann’s Report on the Matinee performance on Sunday 30 April:

On Sunday 30 April, the drab Barbican stage set the dark atmosphere for the afternoon’s performance of ‘Obsession’. Whilst the truculent Joseph squirmed beneath a suspended car engine, his browbeaten wife’s dull life left time hanging heavily on her hands. The unheralded entry of the magnetic Gino kindles passion between the drifter and Hanna who asks “How did you know I wanted you?” Though the pair become mutually obsessed with one another Hanna cannot bring herself to abandon the security represented by her husband’s café so Gino returns to his nomadic life. When the trio chance to meet at a music contest, the lovers kill Joseph. Whilst Hanna feels revitalised by the murder, Gino is unsettled, imagining he has been used to secure the insurance payment for Hanna.

When interviewed about Visconti’s “Ossessione”, Ivo van Hove remarked that the film “looks at us humans in a very basic way” and that he wanted to “analyse the story of what real passion is”. Ivo van Hove linked his thinking to Peter Conrad’s “A Song of Love and Death” where opera is defined as “conditions which bypass rational understanding”. Van Hove added, “Everybody wants passion” but “because passion is a devouring force it is unliveable”. “This idea of being frightened of something and desiring it at the same time is, for me, the very primal story at the heart of Obsession.”

Watching the Barbican production, it was probably an advantage not to be familiar with Visconti’s film based on J. M. Caan’s novel “The Postman Always Rings Twice” though the acting was very good throughout. Jude Law energetically communicated macho charisma and Halina Reijn was an excellent Hanna. The contribution of the Harmonica Tutor generated atmosphere. This was a further joint success for Toneelgroep Amsterdam and the Barbican.

The ANS theatre-goers warmly thanked Marianne for enabling them to see “Obsession” and organising lunch beforehand.

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