ATMAN To 21 November.


by Iain Finlay Macleod.

Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 21 November 2011.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm.
Runs 55min No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).,.uk
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 November.

Clear playing in a fascinating play of words and ideas.
British audiences naturally resist any drama with characters named A and B (or the alphabetical like). The only thing to smack more of alien philosophical dramaturgy is having a man and a woman called He and She.

That wouldn’t help here, at least not until director Jacqui Honess-Martin made the person visiting therapist B in Iain Finlay Macleod’s one-acter female. Hardly a minor point, since the story builds around A’s love for an unseen café waitress (not, quite surprisingly, named C).

Worse follows. Sartre himself, once of existential drama fame, never came up with a title like Atman, which (ah, the wonders of Google) is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘self’, acquiring particular resonances related to identity in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. After which, you’ll need to do your own Googling or this review will be over having hardly reached the stage.

Which would be a pity, for what starts as an intriguing but potentially arid discussion displays increasing interest as it absorbs Macleod’s interest in Jorge Luis Borges and the nature of fiction.

The opening suggests there’s a totalitarian state. Yet within this is a project for a library that could contain every book that might conceivably be written. Matters soon focus here, for A is a librarian who finds the book of her life; that’s fine while it records the past, but what is the future recorded? B encourages his client to write the future on blank pages, starting with a story he relates about brushing against someone.

As confidence sways between the two (a pity Honess-Martin overplays this with effortfully choreographed scene-changes where the performers run, or throw chairs or each other, around), what had been a philosophical dialogue played-out on stage seems more complex as human fate is seen in terms of a book of life for each individual, with destruction of any book extinguishing its subject.

Lucy Griffiths underplays a few phrases and Matthew Spencer occasionally overdoes the therapist body-language, but these are generally clean, capable performances that allow the script to weave its complex way to make the point that the word is the life.

A: Lucy Griffiths.
B: Matthew Spencer.

Director: Jacqui Honess-Martin.
Designer: Kate Lane.
Sound: Tim Middleton.
Movement: Shona Morris.

2011-11-13 15:13:13

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