“I Am the Wind” at 59E59 Theaters (Closed January 26, 2014)

January 18, 2014 | Off-Broadway | Tags:
By Jon Fosse (English Adaptation by Simon Stephens)
Directed by Paul Takacs
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“When rain has hung the leaves with tears/I want you near to kill my fears, / To help me to leave all my blues behind. / Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.” – Donovan

Billed as the confrontation of the inexorable mystery of fate by two friends spending a day boating, Jon Fosse’s “I Am the Wind,” currently running at 59E59 Theater C is better understood as a brilliant and often disturbing examination of ontology – “the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.”

The protagonists are simply referred to as The One (Christopher Tierney) and The Other (Louis Butelli) and the characters are tropes for not only an Everyman dyad, but the dichotomy present in all human interpersonal and intrapersonal transactions. The One and The Other question the meaning of existence, friendship, happiness then quickly assert that meaning itself is “just something you say –words, words, and more words!” Indeed their Beckett-esque theatre of the absurd dialogue questions the meaning and importance of language itself.

Both The One and The Other rehearse the difficulties of living: they are frightened; they are alone; they are burdened heavily with ennui. And although they play out their anxieties as separate entities, it is clear that these characters might well be the inner life of the human condition. Or what the audience sees and hears might be “just imagined.”

At the beginning of this important new play, The One claims to “be gone now” having “left with the wind.” This same assertion closes the play with The One declaring that he is the wind. It is likely that there is no beginning and no ending to “I Am the Wind” and the ontological discussions throughout, including the ever-present possibility of suicide when one gets too heavy and is barely able to move.

Despite the ageless dialogue – quintessentially portrayed by Christopher Tierney and Louis Butelli – between faith and disbelief, angst and assurance, the dynamic and the static and despite the quest for meaning in language, in imagery, in writing, humankind is ultimately alone and balances precariously between hope and despair. Whether humankind can survive in isolation bereft of “the other” is an experiment still in progress.

Jon Fosse’s “I Am the Wind,” brilliantly and carefully directed by Paul Takacs, successfully engages the audience (often lighted as starkly as the stage itself) in the impossible but necessary task of examining the deep and often absurd recesses of the human condition as we attempt to “head toward the lighthouse” of hopefulness.