Pros: The plot is intriguing and the jumps between the past and the present are effective.
Cons: There were technical issues both at the start and during the play, which broke the narrative.
I was lucky enough to visit Iceland in April this year, and the thing that struck me most about the landscape is how bleak it is, with snow and volcanic rock as far as the eye can see just a few miles outside of the capital city Reykjavik. Bleak would also be a good way of describing Moments, which aims to bring authentic Nordic culture to global audiences.
The play focuses on Andri (Aron Trausti), who we first see talking to his brother in a very messy flat. Andri is in a bad way, and it slowly becomes clear that his brother is in fact dead and that Andri is talking to himself. As the story unravels, we hear about their childhood together in rural Iceland and the hunting trips they went on. Their past is obviously riddled with insecurities and guilt, which is revealed by jumping between the present day and the brothers’ youth. While the truth slowly unveils itself, audience members become detectives trying to work out what has happened.
The staging is effective at showing these jumps between the present day and the past. Two glass panels have videos of the brothers as young boys, which helps to put conversations about their past into context. Unfortunately the technology failed a few times, both just before the start and a couple of times during the show. One key moment in the boys’ youth is spoken in Icelandic, so subtitles are used; technical difficulties, however, broke the storytelling. The videos of the young brothers also show differing dates, with one saying 1992 and the other 2002, even though the boys appear to be the same age in both.
The screens are also used to show various Icelandic landscapes, including Reykjavik and the countryside. An inconsistency that bothered me here was that the young boys were out at night on Midsummer; while it does not get dark at this time of year in Iceland, the screens showed a dark night with the Aurora Borealis clearly visible.
There are some powerful performances from the cast, particularly at intensely emotional moments. Sometimes, however, the acting feels stilted and forced. Humour provides light relief in an otherwise rather forceful performance, but overall the show feels a little too long. A resolution would have been welcome ten minutes earlier.
Moments has great potential. The plot is gripping and the staging is unique and, technical issues aside, very effective. It just needs a bit more polishing to make it into a brilliant piece of theatre.