Theater Review: Cries and Whispers, More Severe Than Ever, at BAM

Roeland Fernhout, Halina Reijn in Cries and Whispers at BAM's Harvey Theatre Photo credit: Jan Versweyveld Photo: Jan Versweyveld

Feeling strangely hearty and unbruised? Let Ivo van Hove and the pugilist-dramatists of Amsterdam's Toneelgroep take care of that for you. For the next few days, Van Hove—best known stateside for his traumatized expressionist reclamations of Hedda Gabler, A Streetcar Named Desire, and last season's The Little Foxes—is presenting his vivisected version of that masterpiece of anomie, Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers. It is not for the faint of heart, the weak of stomach, or the impatient-with-a-wordless-twenty-minute-burial-ritual-conducted-to-the-folk-melody-"I'll Fly Away"-on-infinite-loop. This is one of van Hove's more audience-unfriendly pieces (which is saying something), and it's more an analysis of its own stripped-down Lucite stylings than a full-blooded adaptation of Bergman's film. But the bones of the original story remain: Two troubled sisters, the reckless coquette Maria (Halina Reijn) and the brittle self-cutter Karin (Janni Goslinga), gather to tend to their dying sister Agnes (Chris Nietvelt), a video artist struggled with mother issues. 

Cries and Whispers is at BAM's Harvey theater until October 29.