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Rosemary Branch Theatre

in association with AK67 and the Charles Court Opera presents


The Falcon


by David Klempner


Directed by John Savournin


Original score by David Sutton-Anderson


Rosemary Branch Theatre


November 11, 12, 13, 14 and 18, 19, 20, 21, 2009






ary Couzens

A review by Chad Armitstead for EXTRA! EXTRA!


David Klempner makes his London debut with The Falcon, a story of the cold reality of love, money and war.  I left a bit disconcerted to have been so uplifted by such a sad story.

Alphonse (Tom Warner) is discovered by a young dancer and self-proclaimed gypsy, Emina (Alex Topham Tyerman) in the loft of a barn, playing his trumpet and resting from his flight from his troubled past.  Unsure of whether Alphonse is a wanderer or a military deserter, Emina falls in love with the mysterious musician.  The lovers hatch a plan to build a life out of his music and her dancing.  But the dark specter of his past threatens their new life.

Alex Topham Tyerman is a paradoxical hypnotic force, embodying raw sexual energy with disarming innocence.  She renders Alphonse and audience ill equipped to resist.

Tom Warner gives the chivalrous, unassuming Alphonse an aw-shucks boyish charm while Paul Mooney renders the unwelcome soldier of Alphonse’s ill fortune with convincing gravitas.

Klempner’s script exposes painful truths with dialogue full of wit and warmth.  With an intellectual muscularity, Klempner explores opposites in his characters, allowing him to reveal the complexity of being human.  Redemption is only found where there is sin.  Cruelty can awaken kindness.  Hope grows from the soil of doom.  Silence is the canvas for music. 

The result is a script that radiates a particular brand of humanity, populated by characters whose love matches the magnitude of love’s impossibility.  Indeed, living in a world where being together is as perfect as it is impossible, it’s the hopelessness of their desires makes Klempner’s characters instantly identifiable. 

Emina exemplifies the script’s characteristic ability to articulate the problems that come with man’s ability to dream.  “Man cannot live by bread alone, but that doesn’t mean we can live without it.”  Every success for the characters is tinged with sadness and every sorrow is obliterated by hope, no matter how misguided. 

James Perkins’ minimal set design remarkably transforms and maximises the loft space.  Upon entering, one gets the feeling that the space was always a barn loft, complete with distressed wooden floor and walls.  Perkins’ effortless, naturalistic work reflects the professionalism of larger-scale designs we’ve seen this year at theatres like the Wyndham (during the Donmar season) and the Old Vic.

Director John Savournin directs a show that’s just sensitive enough to rip your heart out a little.  He allows the script to speak for itself, but always places his actors with the audience in mind.  Savournin acknowledges the importance of the audience in his blocking.  He also recognises the critical role of storytelling in Klempner’s script.  As such, actors and director transmit the joy of telling stories inherent in the text, keeping story monologues engaging and often making the space seem larger than it is.

David Sutton-Anderson’s haunting score lends the piece an atmospheric, urgent timelessness.  Intricate, driving and at times dissonant, it mirrors and expands the script’s tone, never imposing itself on a moment.  

Savournin puts his two musicians on either side of the stage, supporting the story.  Melanie Henry’s saxophone brings richness to emotionally complex moments. 

Anthony Aarons gives an impeccable performance on the trumpet.  This is impressive on an instrument that in a confined space has the potential to be overbearing or mercilessly expose flaws in technique.

No credit is listed for costumes, but Emina’s cascading skirts and blood-red sash, along with Mooney’s luxurious Spanish soldier uniform deserve note.

It’s difficult to criticise a show that tells such a bleak story and leaves its audience inspired.  Klempner, Savournin and cast strike a timely chord with The Falcon.  In the current twin cold climates of the economy and the impending winter, Klempner’s story of defiant if doomed optimism is a welcome bit of warmth.



£10/£5 concessions

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