Capitol Sanatorium

The latest production from Manchester School of Theatre is Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, an adaptation by Helena Kaut-Howson of the original book by Bruno Schulz.  Regular followers of this blog will know that I look forward to productions at the Capitol Theatre, but this one really does exceed expectations.

I also love physical theatre, and the production draws heavily on physical theatre and movement to create the surreal emotional journey of Joseph, living in a town in what is now Ukraine, during the second world war.  Death, time and form are all transient.  The production draws heavily on European theatre and mime tradition, for example with vivid make up and strong facial lighting.

This is quite an amazing production, beautifully directed by Helena Kaut-Howson.  Technically complex, with wonderfully evocative and effective sound and lighting, the set design allows video projection of Schulz’s original drawings to complement the play.   The production runs for two hours without a break, and manages to sustain the audience’s attention throughout.    Acting is excellent as usual, but it is the movement that sets this play truly apart.  Movement director Elianne Hawley has achieved something wonderful here, and the actors deliver a performance to match.

This is a challenging and ambitious play to put on anywhere, and to see it at the Capitol theatre, performed to such a high standard, is a real treat.  Definitely one of the best things I have seen this year.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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