“The more you speak, the less you say”, seems like a suitable description for the cast of this production. The rest of the play is as beautifully written by Martin Crimp, deservingly regarded as a national treasure – the actors just don’t play it quite right.
We sit and watch the living room of Corinne and Richard: they’re clearly not poor, because they have flowers hanging from their ceiling… upside down. It’s obvious from the first interaction that this is supposed to be a failing relationship; their distant behaviour towards one another seems all too ‘normal’, making it hard to believe they were once in love. Eleanor Henderson as Corinne has stunning potential; she embodies stage presence and is a delight to watch. The direction and portrayal of her character is beautiful, but the rhythm and tone of dialogue are nothing short of irritating past the five-minute mark. Alex Woolf as Richard spends the majority of the production wide-eyed and blank, and even occasionally stumbles over the language.
Claudia Jolly, however, saves the day. Not only does her character (Rebecca) bring so much more to the play than the others, but it is also delivered brilliantly. The contrast between rich and poor when Rebecca and Corinne finally meet is admirable. The final scene starts to evoke a little emotion but it is filled with unnecessary and ineffective shouting. Luckily this is counter-balanced by a warming monologue from Corinne, bringing the production to its inevitable close: anti-climax.
The play makes us question whether Richard is a drug-abusing cheat, or Rebecca a lying intruder. No audience member leaves having come to the same conclusion or asking the same questions, and the line between honesty and deceit is positively blurred. Unfortunately, the acting makes little contribution to this and isn’t quite appropriately married to Crimp’s writing. Cue a frustrated sigh on departure of a cosy theatre where nap time seems likely.