Eat your heart out - Page 2

Kneehigh's comic-romantic 'Tristan & Yseult' is high-flying theater for the masses

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Tristan & Yseult
PHOTO BY STEVE TANNER

Indeed, Rice's direction is so skillful and subtle that objects, characters, and actions can seem to pop out of nowhere despite an aesthetic that largely does away with hidden stagecraft, preferring to revel in what it reveals — as when, for example, the two lovers down their love potion and sweet wine and drink themselves silly, literally feet-off-the-floor high, dangling from aerial bands hoisted by members of the chorus of the unloved. (The latter is a comical Python-esque troupe of "lovespotters" dressed as proverbial birdwatchers or trainspotters in matching rain ponchos and wool headgear). Meanwhile, a live band (under musical director Ian Ross) casts a deliciously forlorn nightclub atmosphere throughout, including pre-curtain and entr'acte.

That sad-sack chorus, and various supporting characters who get their due here, also flags the thematic breadth of the play: Tristan & Yseult is about love in all its elusiveness and inconstant variety; love that alternately supports and belies the romantic ideal represented by the title characters. At the same time, the serious charm offensive underway points to another, complimentary end: the successful wooing of an audience through the sheer bliss of theatrical virtuosity. *

TRISTAN & YSEULT

Through Jan 6, $17.50-$81

Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre

2025 Addison, Berk

www.berkeleyrep.org

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