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Review: City of Glass, at Lyric Hammersmith

05 May, 2017 — By Julie Tomlin

Chris New in City of Glass. Photo: Jonathan Keenan

WHAT stays with you most after watching City of Glass is the brilliant staging by director Leo Warner for 59 Productions, providers of the animation and projection at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

It’s a feat of visual invention that enables seamless movement from the apartment of its protagonist, Daniel Quinn, to bustling New York streets and Grand Central Station. And then the hostel that Quinn stakes out in an effort to determine if Peter Stillman (Jack Tarlton) is planning to kill his son – also Peter Stillman, and also played by Jack Tarlton.

So strong are the visual effects – earth falling as if onto a coffin, fracturing walls, the star-filled sky that cocoons Quinn – that Mark Edel-Hunt and Chris New, who both play him, and the rest of the small cast, appear embedded in the labyrinth world they create.

If you’ve read Paul Auster’s 1987 novel, the feeling is like coming back to a puzzle and wondering if you will make something different of it this time. Also based on the graphic novel by Auster and David Mazzucchelli, Duncan MacMillan’s stage adaptation seems to suggest the disintegration and dislocation brought on by Quinn’s grief over the loss of his wife and son.

But like Auster’s novel, the play doesn’t offer the consolation of reformation, or even explanation. We’re left with the abiding question: “What will happen when there are no more pages in the red notebook” that contained Quinn’s account – and the lavish visual clues that maybe weren’t clues at all.

Until May 20
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