DUET FOR ONE
by Tom Kempinski.
Richmond Theatre, Little Green, Richmond TW9 1QT until 28 October 2017. Touring – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh from 30 October; Malvern Festival Theatre from 6 November; Chichester Festival Theatre from 13 November.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pmn/
Runs 2 hr One interval.
Review: William Russell 23 October.
Not the Jacqueline du Pres story
In a programme note playwright Tom Kempinski is adamant that while his play is about a violinist with MS consulting her doctor psychiatrist about her troubled life it is not about the famous cellist Jacqueline du Pres. It was inspired by problems of his own in suppressing dangerous feelings, by “a deadening denial of what is my actual inner life.” T play, first staged in 1980 and garlanded with awards, is a two hander in which through a series of meetings between the two we follow the way Stephanie, the violinist, falls victim to the progress of the disease and how her relationship with the doctor develops as very gradually he helps her work out how to cope with losing the life that kept her secure.
Belinda Lang is impressive as Stephanie – watch how carefully she loses the poise and elegance of the first encounter and becomes slovenly and ever more defiant as she faces up to a crumbling marriage and a world collapsing around her, and then shows just the signs of recovery, of facing up to the new reality. She gets splendid support from Oliver Cotton as Dr Feldman sympathetic, yet exasperated by her behaviour. It is a masterly display of how to create his own character without upsetting the balance of the duet. All this may sound rather grim and MS is no laughing matter, yet the play is also frequently very funny – Stephanie has an acid tongue and puts down her inquisitor ruthlessly. There is a handsome set, director Robin Lefevre has done a good job and the result, which began at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in September, is as good a piece of touring theatre as one could imagine, every bit as good as anything to hit the West End.
Stephanie: Belinda Lang.
Dr Feldman: Oliver Cotton.
Director: Robin Lefevre.
Designer: Lez Brotherstone.
Lighting Designer: Ian Scott.
Sound Designer: John Leonard.