‘King Lear’ at the National Theatre

Matching each other, name for nameThere is a large photograph on the front page of today’s newspaper.  It is of Simon Russell Beale and Anna Maxwell Martin as Lear and Regan in the new production of King Lear in the Olivier Theatre, directed by Sam Mendes.  This latest collaboration between Mendes and Russell Beale is clearly considered newsworthy; and Charles Spencer, on the Reviews page gives the show four stars.

I’m neutral on the subject of Sam Mendes, but where Simon Russell Beale is concerned, I’m a fan.  I’ve seen him on stage many times, I’ve booked things that would largely not appeal to me solely on the strength of his participation, and have never been disappointed…..until now.

It’s probably a shameful confession, but here it is anyway.  So little was I enjoying the experience, I left at the interval.  I had sat through two hours, and the thought of another hour and a half brought tears to my eyes.  I had already been near weeping for the half hour or so before the break, when I was on hyper alert for the rhyming couplet that normally indicates the end of an Act; and each time I had convinced myself that it must, it just must be now, another actor would appear on stage out of the darkness, and shout some more.  Finally, during the eye gouging scene in which they poured water onto the stage, and the bloodied actor wiped his face on it, my silent cry that surely this must be the interval, if only to allow time for the wiping up, the lights went out and the stage was empty.

After sitting through some awful nights in the theatre trying to appreciate Shakespeare (yes I’m talking about you, Ralph Fiennes) I had all but given up on it. It was the National’s production of Othello last year which encouraged me to believe that Shakespeare didn’t necessarily mean meretricious tedium. That was a production of a play I didn’t know well, but which, because of it’s cleverness and the brilliance of the performances, let me understand it, and engage with it on both an intellectual as well as an emotional level.

King Lear is another of the canon that I don’t know well, apart from the broad brush strokes: the three daughters, the carving up of the kingdom, the old king going mad….. and with SRB in the lead, surely here was a production that would enlighten and entertain me.

I think my dislike of the production all stems from a single problem, which was that I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  For all the shouting and shrieking, the words were remarkably indistinct.  This, added to the frequent changing of scene, of one group of actors leaving as another arrived, I couldn’t really work out what was going on, or more importantly why.

S, my theatre companion and I, were in agreement that the only actor whose words were being enunciated clearly enough for us to hear was the one playing Edmund.  It was therefore very amusing to read subsequently (I’m far too tight fisted to buy a programme) that this was Paapa Essiedu, the understudy for Sam Troughton who had lost his voice midway through the performance of the previous day.  Maybe as understudy, he’d not yet achieved the ‘production style’.  It was very disappointing, but must have been a production decision, because I have never not been able to understand what Simon Russell Beale was saying before; and Anna Maxwell Martin’s usually mellifluous voice was lost in her awkward, shrieking harpie.

S would have probably stayed for the second half if I hadn’t asked her if the only reason for staying was that we thought we ‘should’.  Leaving was the only option once we’d acknowledged that it was the naughty thing that we shouldn’t do.

Have you seen it?  Did it get better after the interval?

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‘A Doll’s House’ at The Duke of York’s Theatre

Nora has been petted and indulged her whole life, first by her father and then by her husband.  She makes few decisions, and those that she does make, she expects to have few consequences.  She has done one thing though which will have far reaching effects when her husband finds out about it.  He believes that her desire for money, for additional housekeeping, is to indulge her childish pleasure in shopping.  In fact she needs the cash to pay the interest on a loan she took out to pay for a trip to Italy for her husband’s health.

I believe this is a new translation of the play, and I was watching and listening to the sharp intakes of breath from the audience in response to the most patronising and infantilising things her husband says to Nora, I did wonder how heavily the original Norwegian text had to express the notion of the frivolity of women for a 19th century audience to react to it; because Nora, when we first meet her, is a self-obsessed, irritatingly silly woman.  So irritating that K, my theatre companion, expressed a reluctance to remain in her company for the second half after the interval, until I persuaded her to stay.  The point of Nora is that when she understands that her husband really does see her as only a decorative adjunct to himself, she awakes from her doll like sleep and leaves to grow into herself on her own. It must have been a controversial idea at the time it was written; but still today I heard a conversation in the audience after the play about the wickedness of her leaving her children behind (especially after the murmurs of surprise and approval when they had a real toddler, rather than a rolled up blanket prop on stage in one scene where she was playing with her offspring.)

I enjoyed the play, as, in sharp contrast to my experience of Fences it gave me a portrait of a deeply flawed character who, though her experiences, developed some self-awareness and understanding of her own role in her frailties.  Hattie Morahan as Nora shows her development from silliness to anger as one of slow gradations, her fluting childlike voice gradually changing to one of deep adult power as the drama progresses, until finally she leaves the house slamming the door loudly behind her.  There was also real pleasure and satisfaction in knowing that Nora’s school friend, the sad, widowed Kristine has finally found happiness with the suitor she thought she had lost years before.

The drama is acted out in a clever and intricate revolving set. The doll’s house of the title, it does indeed resemble one of those toys where opening the front reveals tiny details of a home, as well as having more than a passing resemblance to one of those wheels in a hamster’s cage that keeps the pet running, no matter how pointlessly.

It’s about taking responsibility for yourself, a properly occupying your own life, and I found that a surprisingly optimistic message.

‘Fences’ at the Duchess Theatre

2013-08-31 12.29.47This production of August Wilson’s ‘Fences‘ has received universally positive reviews in the press, and those journalists who award star ratings have generally given it four.  It was therefore something of a disappointment that my conversation at the interval with K, my theatre buddy, was on the question of whether this was or was not, in our opinions, as bad as, or worse than ‘August, Osage County’.

It was perhaps the coincidence of the word ‘August’ in the name of Fences‘ playwright and the name of the other play, but Tracy Letts’ work, which I endured at the National Theatre a few years ago, is broadly my low water mark of tedious, over long examinations of family dysfunction in contemporary (ish) US drama.

The result of our discussion was a draw.  K thought Fences was worse, I disagreed (but then I did truly loathe Osage County).

This was the first August Wilson play I have seen, although K had seen ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ in New York, coincidentally on the famous occasion, in 2009 or thereabouts, when POTUS took FLOTUS on a date night to the theatre, making it, K, observed, quite difficult to leave at the interval, even though she didn’t care for the play.

Having said all of that, we did stay and watch ‘Fences’ through to the end.  The acting in the production was very good; Lenny Henry does occupy the stage with confidence, including great moments of stillness, and creates a blustering, unsympathetic character very effectively; and Tanya Moodie as his wife had a fantastic voice and tone.

The problem for me, was the play.  It was a portrait of a self obsessed, self pitying, disappointed man, and the damage he did to the people associated with him.  There was no development of that character other than the passage of time and the revelation of even more unpalatable events. He wasn’t tragic in that he had no sense of his own fallibility and frailty, and appeared to learn nothing over the course of the play.  He gave some really self pitying speeches, punctuated with threats to his sons and his wife.  It was a bleak portrait of a particularly nasty type of a man.

It was also perhaps unfortunate that it seemed that many members of the audience had come expecting to see a comedy, and therefore, primed for a laugh, started rattling away as soon as Henry appeared on stage, and continued periodically, even at astonishingly inappropriate moments.

All those four stars are still a mystery to me.

‘The Drowned Man – A Hollywood Fable’

2013-07-31 17.05.35This was my first experience of a Punchdrunk production, and I’m still not sure if that is the appropriate description of them or me after the experience.

A friend chivvied me into buying the ticket some months ago, when the only information published about the production was its name and that it would be staged in a location within Zone 1 of the London Transport system.   I knew only what I had read, that the company specialise in site specific performances, a form of immersion theatre in which the audience promenades through the space, and forms an integral part of the whole.  I also guessed that disorientation would be involved.

The show takes place in a former post office sorting building beside Paddington railway station, so truly on the very fringe of what might be described as central London.  Given an entry time of 7:20, we queued through zigzag barriers before being granted entry to a goods lift in a group of about 15.  We were each given a plastic mask which we wore throughout the night.  I paid special attention to what my friend was wearing so that I could identify her later on(!).

We were welcomed into Temple Studios, the fictional Hollywood institution within which two tragic parallel stories of infidelity would be played out.  The lift stopped and the doors opened.  As the last person in, I stepped out, as did my companion, and a young woman, and then the door was slammed behind us.  We were in a dimly lit, deserted concrete corridor.  The young woman, separated from her friends became a little hysterical and immediately reached for her phone to  text for help.  She stayed with us for a little while, until we came across more people and then we lost her in the crowd.

Nothing is well illuminated, apart from the stairs, so most of the evening we wandered around in semi darkness and gloom.  Occasionally we encountered some action and drama; other times we examined small rooms filled with props and accumulated ephemera.  The actors, identifiable mainly because of their absence of masks, walked from dramatic encounter to more dramatic scene.  Some of the audience, presumably those in the know, elected to follow a particular performer, so for those of us still feeling our way, a quiet space would suddenly be filled with a rush of people, a scene would be played out, and then the crowd would disperse some on the heels of one actor, the rest in the wake of the other.

The location of the drama in a film studio afforded the opportunity for ‘play within a play’, or ‘film action within a play’ doubling effects, and we saw several scenes of infidelity both on sound stages and in offset caravans.  We also heard the same song sung by two different men in drag in two different locations, and witnessed a murder, but there were a number of sequences I had read about in newspaper reviews which we didn’t see at all.

Part of the point of the shows is that every person’s experience of it is different, and that each one should be unsettling.  I, for example, kept having to reassure myself in the gloom that ‘health ‘n’ safety’ would mean that there was very little chance of me falling down a hole, my own particular fear of walking around in dark places (not unreasonably I should say as those circumstances have twice caused me to end up at a hospital Casualty).

I enjoyed the experience; the peering behind doors and walking around trying to work out what was going on, but I didn’t ever manage to grasp any real sense of narrative, nor achieve any feeling of involvement with the characters, as none of them really made enough of an impression for me to recognise them if I saw them again.  The sheer scale of it is however something to admire, as well as the extent to which it manages to disorientate; how many floors are there?  Have we been this way before? Is this sand/water/wood chips under foot?

Masking the audience also adds a strange element.  we were easily identified as having the role of voyeurs, but no single person was recognisable.  I found it a little unnerving, but for others it seemed to deprive them of any manners, and I did find myself jostled my view deliberately impeded on a number of occasions.    And it was very hot inside the plastic of the mask…… I do hope they clean them between shows……

If you’ve not tried it, I recommend it as an experience.

‘A Season in the Congo’ at the Young Vic

I booked the tickets for the current production of A Season in the Congo at the Young Vic months ago, before they even knew what the auditorium layout was going to be, when you couldn’t see where you would be sitting and all you could say was the price you were prepared to pay.  I booked it knowing nothing about the play and solely on the strength of the pre publicity that the lead would be taken by Chiwetel Ejiofer.

I’ve been following his career since I had a front row seat to see him and Bill Nighy in Blue Orange at the National Theatre, (online research has revealed that this must have been in 2000), and although he has performed on the stage to much acclaim since, this was my first opportunity to see him again.

So it didn’t really matter what the play was about; but inevitably on my way there, I did start to interrogate myself on the degree of my ignorance.  What I know about the Congo is limited to the horrific news reports of its recent bloody history, and to my reading of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.  

About Patrice Lumumba I knew even less.  Probably the first time I’d heard his name was when I was newly arrived in Moscow in the 1990s.  My Russian teacher’s main employment was as a lecturer at Moscow’s Lumumba People’s Friendship University.  When he first told me the name of the institution, despite its incongruous sound, I thought Lumumba was just another Russian word I’d never heard before; and so he had to explain to me that it was the name of an post independence African leader undone by Western capitalist colonial  interference (and thereby confirming his belief in the general ignorance of those who had not benefited from a Russian education.)

I think it would be fair to say that my understanding of Lumumba’s role and his death having seen the play is only a little further forward: he was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Congo after it gained independence from Belgium, and he was undone by colonial interference, leaving the way open for Mobutu, a figure more acceptable to ‘the west’, to take over.

The play itself, with all its agitprop creakiness, is just a framework around which has been woven a tremendous theatrical experience.  The cast mingle in the audience before the play kicks off, chatting and suggesting the purchase of beer from the stall onstage; and many of the seats are plastic chairs arranged around small tables in a sunken area in the middle of the auditorium.  There is music both live and recorded and astonishing dancing and movement.  The cast of a dozen or so seem like many more and they transform themselves from nightclub dancers to bloody fighters seamlessly while we watch them pulse and move onstage.

There is puppetry, giant papier mache heads represent the Belgian vested interests undermining independence, and vultures arrive to pick over the carcasses at the end of protests.  The all black casts put on plastic piggy white noses to signify when they are portraying white characters and there are some excellent performances.

It is, however, Chiwetel Ejiofor who carries the evening.  It is the depth and nuance that he gives to his character that gives the play heart; he is an idealist, keen to forge a united country, but he is blind to the betrayals of his associates and fails to predict the impact of the international interference.  Betrayed by his allies, there is an inevitability to his death.  He is up against too many malign forces to be able to fight them all and maintain his ideals.  It was a vocally rich and physically powerful performance, and even though I did feel there were some longueurs in the evening, to see him act was worth the price of admission any day.

‘The Amen Corner’ at the Olivier Theatre

Set in the 1950s in a rundown corner church in Harlem, ‘The Amen Corner’ examines the hypocrisy, petty rivalries and envy in a small religious community.

Sister Margaret, (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is the leader of the small Pentecostal community, setting absolute and inflexible rules for her flock.  Unbending, she sows the seeds of resentment by preaching against the job driving a beer delivery truck that one member plans to apply for; Sister Margaret knows the path of righteousness and that would be an unholy thing to do.

When her long abandoned jazz musician husband turns up out of the blue, dying from TB, and her son is spotted hanging out with girls and smoking cigarettes in the street, the control Margaret has over her congregation and her own life begins to unravel.  Her absence out of town for a couple of days gives the church Elders the opportunity to plot against her.  Where did she get the money for the new refrigerator in her house? Why did she lie that her husband had left her, when she was the one who had left?  Even the good offices of her sister Odessa, a magnificently dignified Sharon D Clarke, can do nothing to prevent the usurping of her role as pastor.  When her husband, whom she is forced to admit she still loves, dies, and her son leaves her to go on tour playing jazz, she is left bereft, and only then realises that the only way to follow the true path of good is to love people.

The action is played out on a double-storey set; upstairs the meeting room for the church, with a cramped downstairs, dominated by the controversial refrigerator, where Sister Margaret lives with her son and Odessa.  The play begins and ends with gospel singing, even before the lights have dimmed the songs have started, and music punctuates the evening.  Even when they are not in church, songs, for which everyone knows the words, seep into everyday encounters.

But it is when they are singing in church that all the participants throw themselves wholeheartedly into the singing; their bodies bend and twist emphasising the energy and power of the message.  And this physicality is thrown into high relief when, at the climax of the play, Sister Margaret sits quietly weeping by the body of her dead husband in the downstairs flat, her vanquisher, Sister Moore (Cecilia Noble) who has morphed seamlessly from sycophantically devout follower to viciously ambitious rival, leads the congregation in an ecstatic, stomping, clapping victory chant.

I thought all the performances were fantastic, big and brash when that was needed, and subtle and affecting in the smaller yet more significant moments.  And the singing was foot tapping, hand clapping inspiring.  The nasty gossiping, the hypocrisy, and nursing of seemingly trivial grievances into justifications to topple Sister Margaret are brilliantly done, recognisable from any environment where people compete with each other for any kind of authority or preferment.

The National Theatre is on a bit of a roll at the moment, and this is another great show.

‘Mission Drift’ at The Shed, The National Theatre

2013-06-06 13.50.49This was my first visit inside The Shed, the temporary studio space at the National Theatre.  A large red wooden box accessed through a hole created in the exterior wall of the Lyttleton foyer, it has a plain black interior and a central performance area.

Sitting in the front row we risked tripping up the actors if we stretched our legs out too far, but such proximity afforded a very direct experience of the performances.

Mission Drift is a piece devised by the young american company TEAM as an exploration of the striving towards a Utopia of capitalism.  The props include three collapsible garden chairs, some tinsel, a grand piano and sand scattered from water bottles, reinforcing the ‘fringe’  energy and aesthetic of the show.

It is presided over by Miss Atomic, Heather Christian, as a purring chanteuse, part beauty pageant winner, part cackling cynic.  Two parallel stories unfold: one in Las Vegas just after the economic downturn, where Joan, a recently redundant cocktail waitress whose house on an unfinished development is now worthless,  spends her time in the neon boneyard where the lights of the imploded casinos go to die.  The second is the story of Catalina and Jorus Rapalje, newly arrived in New Amsterdam in the 17th century, who, perpetually teenagers, and constantly producing children, follow a 400 year odyssey from being early employees of ‘The Company’, the first multinational corporation, to being billionaire owners of a string of casinos in the shining city of Las Vegas, via trading with the native peoples through logging, farming and the nuclear bomb testing, and many name changes.

It’s an ambitious project to cover the length and breadth of US history through its focus on moneymaking, and, at the beginning it wasn’t altogether clear to me what was going on, but as it progressed, the energy and commitment of the performances made sense of the apparent chaos of microphone cables, dancing and lizards’ heads.  The music is a great melange of gospel, blues, jazz, a sprinkling of Elvis, and an offkey My Way, delivered by the on stage musicians, variously whispered, amplified, distorted or au naturel.

Being so close to the action meant that when Chris, the man who insisted he lived in the desert even though the city now surrounded him, shook the dust of his jacket, it drifted straight into our drinks and the back of my throat, an unexpected taste and smell addition to the visual and aural experience.

It was fun and physical, and amidst the chaotic exuberance there is a serious comment on the perpetual striving for growth and the ‘knock it down and build a bigger one’ of american capitalism.

It was a great first experience of The Shed, of which I hope there will be more.

‘Strange Interlude’ at the National Theatre

I can remember quite distinctly seeing Glenda Jackson in the West End production of O’Neill’s Strange Interlude in the 80s, probably because of her performance, but also because it was the first time I had ever seen a theatre bar selling sandwiches to sustain the audience through the performance.

The new production in the Lyttleton has been abridged to fit into a 7 until 10:15 running time, and, apart from a slight numbing in the nether regions, it’s hard to believe that so much time had passed, I was so engaged.  From overheard conversations on the way out, it seems that my opinion may not be universally shared, but there’s no news in that.

The play centres on Nina, who lost her ideal love, Gordon, a college athletics star, in the last days of the First World War.  That loss dominates and colours her whole life, as well as that of all the other men who try to love her.  There is Charles, poor old Charlie, a friend of her father’s who camouflages his love in his vague, avuncular manner, Sam, her husband, who comes from a family scarred by generations of mental illness, Ned, a doctor and Nina’s lover and the father of her child, and Gordon, her dearly loved son, who cannot ever love her back enough.

The plot is that of melodrama involving fidelity and infidelity, love and deceit, highly wrought emotions and jealousies, spread over twenty years during which the emotional and financial fortunes of the characters wax and wane.  It is played out with the frequent use of soliloquies directed at the audience, revealing the innermost thoughts of the characters, which are often at odds with what they say to the other protagonists.  (It brought to mind my recent outing to see Passion Play in which each main character is played by two actors, allowing two realities to be expressed at the same time.  It works better in Strange Interlude.)

It’s an examination of whether it is better to be dutiful and honourable or to strive solely for happiness; and even if happiness is the only goal, whether it is attainable if you abandon loyalty and responsibility.  Nina for all her searching for happiness, and all the men around her who love her, seems rarely without one kind of anguish or another.  Of all of the characters, it is only Sam,  too dim to understand what is going on around him, accepting everything at face value, who appears to be happy.

As everything revolves around the character of Nina, the burden of the success of the production falls on the lead actress; we have to sympathise with her anxieties, her changeability and her dilemmas, and most importantly we have to believe that she is truly so fascinating as to keep three men in thrall to her over the decades.  Anne-Marie Duff is fantastic in the role, full of nervy intensity, and when she is on stage it’s impossible to take your eyes off her.

The staging was clever, making full use of the Lyttleton stage and the revolve for the interiors in the first half, and then opening the whole area up, and sweeping the cast in on an impressionistic boat deck for scenes at the shore (with the sideways nod to Titanic which seems compulsory these days in scenes involving women near ship railings).  And poor Sam has to wear some truly ridiculous outfits including large chequered suits and jumpers tucked into his trousers; but mostly I was watching the performances and enjoying them, and being surprised when it all came to an end.

So ignore the doubters and go and see it if you can.  Let me know what you think.

‘Passion Play’ at the Duke of York’s Theatre

In one newspaper interview I read recently, Zoe Wanamaker was reported as remarking that Passion Play, in which she is currently appearing in the West End, is hardly a feminist work.  I might go further than that and suggest that it has a distinctly misogynist streak.

Peter Nichol’s play, from the early 1980s, is another one of those plays from that period about marital infidelity.  One could play a sort of compare and contrast between it and Stoppard’s The Real Thing, and Pinter’s Betrayal if one were stuck in a snow drift on a long dark evening and were that way inclined.

The unusual feature of this play is to have two actors playing each of the main characters, at the same time: one speaks the lines that are said aloud, the other says what the character is thinking.  It’s a clever trick, and when you have Zoe Wanamaker and Samantha Bond playing the long suffering wife there is always something to watch when either one or both on the stage.  But it is only a trick, and it’s not enough to carry the whole conceit of the play.

Owen Teale and Oliver Cotton play the bored husband, enticed into an affair with an alluring, but woefully underwritten and stereotypical woman young enough to be his daughter.  In the first half of the play there is some comedy in the awkward early stages of the affair, and the double playing of the roles.  After the interval, once the wife becomes aware of the infidelity, the heart of the drama is in the disintegration of her self confidence, giving both lead actresses something to chew on, wide eyed with distress.

Were it not for the strength of their performances, there would be little to commend this play (apart from a very clever minimalist set) which seemed to be little more than an  embodiment of  an old fashioned middle aged male fantasy – to have both the excitement of the young woman and the home making of the wife at the same time.  And as the play finishes, this seems to be the status quo, a hollowed out wife staying in the marriage, even as her spirit and soul pack their bags and walk out of the house, while the mistress struts her stuff for the husband, in nothing but a fur coat.

Have you seen it?  Could you see any other redeeming features?

Tickets are available at the Half Priced Ticket Booth in Leicester Square.

‘A Human Being Died That Night’ at Hampstead Theatre

2013-05-17 17.00.23The play begins in the lobby outside the small Hampstead Theatre downstairs.  It is here that Noma Dumezweni, as Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, is giving a presentation on the human capacity for evil and the possibility of forgiveness based on her experience of interviews in Pretoria Central Prison with Eugene de Klock.

As she talks, she leads the audience into theatre, and in near darkness we file past floor to ceiling bars, inside which sat a man, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, shackled by the ankles to the floor, before taking our seats.  It is a very dramatic beginning, and creates a feeling of intense claustrophobia in the small space.

As part of her work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Goboda-Madikizela interviewed de Kock, who was then serving a sentence of two life sentences plus 212 years for crimes against humanity, for his role as one of the main assassins of the South African Apartheid regime.

As a psychologist she wanted to understand why, after a hearing into the death of two black police officers, de Kock had asked to speak directly to the widows, to ask for their forgiveness.  It seemed entirely contrary to the terrible acts he had committed in the past; was there still a human underneath all that brutality, and could she overcome her distaste for the man, to find out?

The question that hangs over the whole play is whether is his apparent remorse is genuine, or a game he is playing in an attempt to have his sentence reduced.  The paradox is that he gives the appearance of being a fundamentally moral person, albeit one who believed in the apartheid regime.  He wrong foots his interviewer from their first meeting, by standing to greet her when she enters his cell, and treating her throughout with an old fashioned politeness.

Through all the terrible admissions what clearly angers him is that officials higher up in the regime, from whom he took his orders had avoided imprisonment by pointing the finger of blame solely at him.  While acknowledging his responsibility for his own wrongdoing, he believed he was part of a bigger machine, and that there were others as responsible as him, who refused to acknowledge it.

‘I was a veteran fighter.  That’s how I saw myself.  But at the end of the day Pumla, all that I am is a veteran of lost ideologies.  Once you realise that, you lose your innocence.’

It was a mesmerising evening.  Matthew Marsh, as de Kock, was tremendous, accent perfect,  suggesting both the power and strength that allowed him to be so deadly, but also the twisted convictions that drive him, which, once they were gone, left him powerless but with a clear eye to the consequences.

It’s not something I knew anything about before watching the play, but found it a compelling examination of the idea of what can possibly constitute real remorse and forgiveness; and where a belief in a twisted morality and imperative can lead.

The play is on until 15 June.

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