This is the kind of play that will have traditionalists walking out of the theatre and many of the more patient audience members will be frustrated at the densely poetic script – but it's also a shining example of the Royal Court's commitment to bold new writing.
Designer Merle Hensel, who also designed Alistair MacDowell’s X at the Royal Court, positions the audience in the centre, on swivelling stools. The stage is a raised platform that encircles three-quarters of the room with intriguing but under-used chalkboard walls. The actors often speak to each other over the audience, and conversations therefore become attempts to bridge a gap. Immediately placed in the middle of the story, the audience must also swivel around as each scene moves in a different direction. Replicating the complex minefield of relationships, the set complements green’s poetic script.
Like someone’s memory revisiting past moments in a relationship, the narrative focuses primarily on A (Lashana Lynch) and B’s (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr) tumultuous history. Beautifully rendered, rhythmic and lyrical, they both edit their words as they go, trying desperately to find what exactly they mean – and what they mean to each other. Lynch and Eustache display a powerful chemistry, even their humour feels raw and honest.
A and B’s challenges trickle into the other two relationships, and green does a fine job in exploring how love and loss affect romantic relationships, including older and cross-generational ones. The uneven weighting between the three couples is redeemed by compelling performances. Although their scenes are more like sketches than A and B’s continuous thread, Shvorne Marks, Gary Beadle and particularly Meera Syal do a remarkable job suffusing their characters with depth.
While the script is bold, it is the design and acting that really bring this drama to life. Subtly powerful, a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) shows us the countless times conversation fails us, and the countless times we fail in conversation.
|What||a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun), Royal Court review|
Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
28 Feb 17 – 01 Apr 17, 7:45 PM – 9:45 PM
|Price||£12 - £25|
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Court|