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Review: Paul Auster’s City of Glass at HOME, Manchester

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By Daniel J Broadley

The first of three stories from Paul Auster’s postmodern The New York Trilogy, City of Glass has recently been adapted for the stage by 59 Productions. The world premier of the play was held at Manchester’s HOME this week.

City Of Glass follows crime writer Daniel Quinn as he receives a mysterious call from Peter Stillman Jr, asking for the private detective Paul Auster. Quinn takes the case and adopts the identity of Auster, which sends him down a path of fake and broken identities, as well as endless and seemingly useless clues. Thus the play mixes the fragmented language and madness of postmodernism with the classic noir detective genre.

What was most impressive in this performance were the special effects: projections and lightings of various settings seamlessly moved the audience through the landscape of New York City and, at times, into the mind of a man losing his grip on reality. The acting was superb and the fact there were two actors playing Daniel Quinn added to the idea that this is a character who does not know who he really is. As he said, “My name is Paul Auster, that is not my real name.”

Paul Austerís City of Glass. Performed at HOME Theatre. Adapted by Duncan Macmillan. A World premiere production from 59 Productions, HOME and Lyric Hammersmith. Cast: Vivienne Acheampong, Mark Edel-Hunt, Chris New, Jack Tarlton, Riley White, Lochlan White.

The highlight of the evening, however, was Jack Tarlton’s portrayal of both Peter Stillman Jr. and Snr, Tarlton successfully capturing Stillman Jr’s maddening monologue from the original novel and perfectly showing the demented madness of Stillman Snr. Hats off too to Mark Edel-Hunt and Chris New as Daniel Quinn and Vivienne Acheampong as Virginia Stillman and various other characters. The play also included a narrator that comes in various voices, further fueling the audience’s questions: who exactly are we following? Whose story is being told?

59 Production’s play is a brilliant adaptation of Paul Auster’s novella and fans of postmodernism and Auster’s work will love it. Anyone who has not read City of Glass, however, might want to familiarise themselves with the work to fully appreciate what is an excellent adaptation of one of the greatest examples of postmodern literature of the 20th century.

City of Glass is showing until Saturday 18th March. For more information and tickets, visit the HOME website.

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Daniel Broadley

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