Tristan & Yseult OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • TM

Opening Night:
November 16, 2014
Closing:
December 14, 2014

Theater: St. Ann's Warehouse / 38 Water Street, New York, NY,

Synopsis: 

Following their astonishing­ Brief Encounter and The Wild Bride, the beguiling players from Kneehigh return to St. Ann’s Warehouse with this glorious adaptation of Tristan & Yseult. Based on an epic ancient tale from Cornwall, Tristan & Yseult revels in forbidden desires, broken heart­s, grand passions, and tender truths. Seen through the eyes of the “Unloved,” this thrill ride of a production marries gorgeous live music and jaw-dropping theatricality for an irresistible night of love.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Tristan & Yseult

    A Love Story and Its Voyeurs

    Ben Brantley

    November 24, 2014: The lines between pleasure and pain keep blurring in Kneehigh Theater’s ecstasy-drunk Tristan & Yseult, which opened on Monday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. This is true not only for the doomed-to-love title characters, who notoriously have that whole Eros and Thanatos thing going, but also for the audience in their thrall. Long stretches of Emma Rice’s ever-surprising adaptation of an ancient tale of fatal adultery feel like a giddy party, though one at which the guests are perhaps trying too hard to have a good time. Bring out the balloons! Raise your glasses! Sing along with the band! Then, before you know it, you’ve been ambushed by a sorrow that makes your eyes sting. And with that startling sadness comes the realization that, all along, a jagged heart has been throbbing at the center of these merry revels. You understand what one of the show’s characters, a cuckolded king who is no longer sure whether to rule with his heart or his head, means when he proclaims, “Let ambivalence come.” It isn’t just your usual waffling, shuffling ambivalence that’s at work here, though. As was demonstrated in another Kneehigh hymn to the transporting and ruinous nature of love, its stage version of the movie Brief Encounter, this Cornwall-based British company does nothing by halves, even when it’s dealing with division.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Tristan & Yseult

    The British Kneehigh Theatre company puts its vivid and inventive stamp on a legendary story of star-crossed love

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    November 24, 2014: The visually and emotionally intoxicating Tristan & Yseult takes you on a journey, which, as love itself often does, goes from happy hijinks to hapless heartache. The impressive ride is par for the course from Kneehigh, the British troupe behind the inventive take on Brief Encounter that played at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2009 before leaping to Broadway. That story was about unconsummated passion. Not this one. French dreamboat Tristan (Dominic Marsh, in full heartthrob mode) and Irish maiden Yseult (Hannah Vassallo, fetching) give in to unquenchable desires despite the fact that it means betraying loved ones and their homelands. Richard Wagner plumbed the ill-fated romance — and all its drama — for his opera Tristan und Isolde. There are motifs of that classic work running through adapter and director Emma Rice’s version, which unfolds on a circular stage with a catwalk and a towering mast that’s used for various acrobatic effects. It’s all very theatrical — and it’s not too concerned about being very silly (those sparkly floral antennae, for instance). A live band croons tunes like “Only the Lonely” and “Dream Lover” to make sure you get that love doesn’t come easy.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Tristan & Yseult

    Kneehigh returns to Brooklyn with their groundbreaking love story about the unloved

    Zachary Stewart

    November 24, 2014: It's an open secret in the theater that the young lovers are usually the least interesting characters, both to watch and to play. Cornwall England's Kneehigh Theatre seems to recognize this fact, opting to accentuate the trials of peripheral characters in their magnificent Tristan & Yseult, finally making its New York premiere at St. Ann's Warehouse. First performed in the ruins of a Cornish castle over a decade ago, Tristan & Yseult catapulted Kneehigh to national acclaim in 2005 when it was co-produced in London with Britain's National Theatre. American fans who have come to love Kneehigh for its scrupulously theatrical productions like The Wild Bride and Broadway's Brief Encounter won't want to miss this seminal work. Tristan & Yseult is based on an old legend of Cornwall about a knight and his forbidden love affair with the queen. While the story has been passed down through the centuries, it is perhaps most popularly immortalized in Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde. Director Emma Rice makes good use of Wagner's score (and a dozen highly disparate musical sources) for her idiosyncratic version of the story.

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