Jules and Jim by Timberlake Wertenbaker based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roche. Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London W1 to 27 May 2023. 4****. William Russell.

Patricia Allison proves a wonderfully contrary, alluring and maddening Kath in this three hander created by Timberlake Wertenbaker from Henri-Pierre Roche’s novel. the first play to be directed by Stella Powell-Jones as artistic director of the Jermyn Street Theatre. The book was the basis for the 1962Francois Truffaut new wave movie Jules et Jim and although the film today is possibly not all that well known it was one of the great successes of the time and as Catherine, the woman involved with Jules and then Jim, Jeanne Moreau was enchanting. One could say she was an impossible act to follow. But Patricia Allison proves up to the challenge. Jules, a rather pedantic Austrian, and Jim, a much more flaky Frenchman become close friends in the years before the Great War, then into their lives comes Kath as she is called in Wertenbaker’s version of the story, a young woman who looks like a statue they have seen on their travels. The three enjoy a wonderful Bohemian life together, and then in the years before the war separates them by which time. Kath has married Jules and they have a child. When they meet again she and Jim fall in love and the lives of the three become inextricably involved. Kath is capricious, has affairs with other men, miscarries Jim’s child, but for a while all three live together apparently happily. Samuel Collings is a nicely slightly stuffy Jules, always accomodating, while Alex Mugnaioni is perfect as the far more fragile Jim tormented by his love for the volatile and wayward Kath who loves them both. There is a splendid set which is all white with blue ribbands painted over it and a couple of translucent panels which slid back and forward placing the action perfectly in some dreamscape although not one in which there is going to be a happy ending. Jermyn Street has a hit on its hands and Wertenbaker has crafted the moving tale beautifully.

Kath – Patricia Allison. Jules – Samuel Collings. Jim – Alex Mugnaioni.

Director – Stella Powell-Jones. Set & Costume Designer – Isabella Van Braeckel. Composer & Sound Designer -Holly Khan. Movement Director – Elliot Pritchard. Production Photograph – Steve Gregson.

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