7.5/10
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4 user

Ohio Impromptu (2000)

| Short | TV Short
A reader tells a sad story to a listener, who only knocks in response.

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A reader tells a sad story to a listener, who only knocks in response.

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Thought provoking short
2 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

In an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's play/poem two old men with long gray hair sit at a table in a dark room. They are identical in dress and appearance. One man reads from a book while the other sits listening without saying a word. Occasionally the listener raps his knuckles on the table to interrupt the reader and to signal a line to be repeated, but other than that the reader is uninterrupted until the reason for the situation is revealed.

I'm not a great mind and I'm not into theater of literature so I approach this very much as someone who is used to things being quite clear in films and TV – occasionally I see things that require much thought to get the meaning out, but generally not. This is very different as we only have the words of the reader to follow – all else is black and about looks and gestures. This may prove challenging to many audiences as it seems meaningless and going nowhere. However stick with it – it's only 10 minutes long.

To me the story is about grief, the two men are indeed one and perhaps the reader signifies the thought process of the listener. Certainly the passage being read seems to be in the past, memories of a love lost, most likely through death. The reader tells of a longing to stay in the past and reveals the power of memories and the reason for them. However he also wants to move on at some point – when the point in the book where the reader reads that someday the story will end and the reader will not return, it is like the listener is hearing this for the first time (despite the regular silent visits). When the reader becomes one with the listener and their connection is revealed, the darkness is lifted and the room is clearly seen in colour.

The principle being that grief is healthy for a while but then it must end and the light can return to our lives – it isn't possible or healthy to stay in the past forever. I only think this after a bit of thought – and I may be way off the mark, however that's what I enjoyed about this – it made me think and it stayed with me for quite a while. Most films leave your mind after you leave the cinema or whatever so it is refreshing to have this stay for a bit and test the brain.

Irons is great in both roles – more demanding than they sound, and the direction is faultless if stagy. Overall a involving and thought provoking short – I invite all the multiplex generation to try and catch this if they can…..it may open doors.


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