‘The Book of Disquiet’ Review

Michel van der Aa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet’ was the best way to kick off the 2016 season at Peak Performances!

Peak Performances brings ‘The Book of Disquiet.’

book of disquiet
Photo courtesy by Joost Riedijk, Peak Performances.

After astounding European success, Michel van der Aa’s The Book of Disquiet has successfully made its American premiere!

Based on the novel of the same title, Michel van der Aa’s The Book of Disquiet brought Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa’s characters to life. The 75-minute-long work was an autobiography of Bernando Soares, Pessoa’s alter ego. This, along with many other writings, is part of the famous poet’s unfinished bookwork. The show was brought to Kasser by Peak Performances and was certainly unlike anything they have put on before.

Award winning Dutch director, Michel van der Aa, accomplished something amazingly unique with this production! The Book of Disquiet was a combination of spoken dialogue, orchestral performances, song and video. Looking at the stage from the audience’s perspective, one saw the entire orchestra and the conductor stationed behind a large open circle, as if it was a window. Set across the stage where various large circular projection screens with a small desk in the center. Sitting at the desk deep in thought was actor, Samuel West. Different video clips were played simultaneously on the screens to show West’s character’s thought process.

“Actor Sam West has been really wonderful in rehearsals,” said van der Aa. “He made the part his own.”

Throughout the show, West held true to his complex role. He narrated the story with his spoken word, accompanied by various video clips. Drastic transitions of mood and state of mind were portrayed so accurately, that the audience was taken to another world where alter egos collide. All aspects of the performance flowed well and complimented each other.

The premiere of this piece was in Linz, Austria,” sid van der Aa. “We’ve since toured the piece in Portugal, Poland and the Netherlands. I find [there are] similar challenges on each location, but fortunately we travel with the same core crew and team, so everybody knows the piece well and it’s a fluent process.”

This musical theater work received phenomenal reviews from critics, which sparked its start in touring nationally. Overall, The Book of Disquiet was amazing. The acting was natural and the music was complementary to the entire production. This show is the perfect example of how technology can be combined with musical theater to create a masterpiece.

Peak Performances never ceases to bring phenomenal shows to the stage. Visit peakperfs.org for more information on upcoming performances and events. Tickets are always free for Montclair State University students with a school ID present and $20 for the general public.

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