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Posts Tagged ‘Elayce Ismail’

It’s an intriguing title for a play, and Cordelia Lynn’s piece proves to be just as intriguing on stage. What seems at first to be a love story proves to be way more, speculating on where we might be going, and connecting it to where we once were. I found it gripping and fascinating.

The love story we follow is a couple at a UK university, both post-graduates, him a poet and left-wing activist and her a physicist content to stay in her laboratory. They discover a degree of shared Polish heritage, though hers is also Jewish. Their grandparents come from the same town on the Polish / Ukrainian border. It’s not the most straightforward relationship, partly self-induced, but also impacted by university politics, which themselves reflect our society today. We eventually jump forward to the near future for some prophesy about how our current intolerance might unfold, before an unexpected move back in time in the first of two coup d’theatre, suggesting that history can repeat itself, albeit transformed.

The first, much longer, part is an intense two-hander on a bare stage, with Tom Mothersdale playing the highly charged man and Abigail Weinstock the much cooler woman (an impressive debut), in a fast-paced series of mostly short scenes. Their relationship twists and turns with anger and violence as well as love and affection. To describe the second part would constitute a spoiler, so I won’t. Some seem to have found it contrived and unnecessary; I found it a valid linking of the past, present and possible future, and without it the play’s key premise would not be made.

In addition to the fine central performances, Elayce Ismail’s finely detailed direction stood out too, as did the designs of Basia Binkowska. High quality work which makes great use of the Donmar space, for the intimacy of the relationship as well as the epic epilogue. I seem to be going against the grain here in welcoming such talented writing, performing and creative inputs onto a major London stage. I felt it was a great way to celebrate the Donmar’s return.

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