Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Request Programme is a play without words. The single character on stage speaks not a single syllable. This play is created and sustained just by the sheer brilliance of Cecilia Nilsson’s bravura performance. It really is one of the most astonishing pieces of theatre to be offered on the Fringe this year. Treat yourself to the Fringe at its best. Go see and marvel at theatre performed at its very best.
This is a play about committing suicide. It is based in the flat of Miss Rasch. The audience sits around her in her flat. It can make for an unsettling view at times, as the solo character comes in, prepares, eats and clears up her evening meal. Smokes, listens to the Request programme on the radio, takes an overdose of sleeping pills, undresses for bed, and goes to sleep. For eternity.
A play about suicide doesn’t sound a barrel of laughs. It isn’t. It is a tough, uncompromising piece of theatre which draws you into the drama unfolding around you. Immersive theatre at its best.
It is the very intimacy of this play which makes it so extraordinary.The audience are close enough to touch the single character; to see her every blemish (as well as her striking beauty). The intimacies, the nakedness, the nearness bring a connection and presence in the moment which is utterly compelling.
The performance by Cecilia Nilsson is quite fantastic. She is a truly remarkable actress. Without uttering a single word, she tells such a sad tale, which has no beginning, just a tragic ending. She is great. Really great.
Nilsson gives a masterclass in acting which every young hopeful here on the Fringe should go and see. Its a star at work. It is privilege to be in her company.
The original production was made for Riksteatern/Drama (The National Touring Theatre, Sweden) and toured Sweden giving over 60 performances of the Franz Xavier Kroetz play ”Wunschkonzert”.
Cecilia Nilsson has a distinguished career in TV, film and radio as well as stage acting.
She had also produced and directed theatre.She is a real find for the Fringe. She is a very skilful and accomplished practitioner of theatre arts. This play shows her craft at its most intense. Remember, there is no dialogue, no other character to play off. No explanations offered of what is happening or why. The devil is in the detail of her acting. As you sit and watch, it can feel very awkward. You are literally sitting in her apartment with her, saying nothing.That is why this performance is so compelling. Thats why it is such a challenging and inmpressive addition to the Pleasance roster.
My one criticism is the choice of venue. As a part of the Pleasance offerings at this year’s festival, this play should be given a prime spot at the Courtyard or Dome. The play deserves it. The audience deserves it. And Cecilia Nilsson deserves the biggest stage for one of the great Edinburgh shows.
This is an absolute must-see. It really is that good. And it will remain in the memory for a very long time indeed.