LA RONDE, 3Star***, London. To 01 03.

La Ronde
By Arthur Schnitzler.
a new adaptation by Max Gill.
3Stars ***

The Bunker Theatre, 55 Southwark Street, London SE1 1UN to 11 March 2017.
Tues – Sat 7.30 pm. Mat Wed, Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 95 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7403 1139.
Review: William Russell 13 February.

Going round in circles in style
The gimmick behind this intriguing variation on Schnitzler’s much imitated and translated play is that each member of the cast of four will play any of the parts in the five scenes and the decision as to who it is will be made by twirling a wheel of fortune. The only “must” is that whoever plays the prostitute in scene one must be in scene five when the story of love, desire and sexual deviation has gone full circle.

On the press night the wheel was up to its tricks and managed to ignore one of the four right up to that fifth scene. Apparently the mathematics of it is that there are some 3000 variations possible. Does it work? Not really, and one did start to wonder whether the fourth player, Leemore Marrett Jr, was ever going to get anything to do.

It is what it is – a gimmick and if the wheel, as wheels sometimes are, were fixed nobody would be any the wiser. But it does mean that instead of the usual male female couplings as the gift of love, which was syphilis, although not here, is handed on from one recipient to the next, that one gets female on female and male on male couplings, the text of the playlets having been written in a non specific gender way.

But that said Max Gill’s playlets work splendidly and the performances of the cast could hardly be bettered. Alex Vlahos makes a fine male tart happily selling his body but refusing to kiss, and a wonderful neurotic academic with a taste for being smacked who gets his just deserts from his surprisingly gifted East European cleaning lady, a glamorous and relentless Lauren Samuels. Amanda Wilkin has a fine time as the rent boy’s customer, who may be a bus driver or a celebrity, and an even better time when stuck in a lift with Ms Samuels as rival pop stars where things do happen. Mr Marrett, when eventually he gets his chance, he seizes it to great effect. Good to see sodomy back on the London stage by the way when Mr Vlahos’s very bored rent boy does what rent boys do when things come full circle.
Mr Gill has also included some vox pop quotes about the whole damn thing between the scenes which, were they audible, would make more impact and set it all more firmly as a tale of our times. As to love, well it is a lottery, but then so is satisfying desire, and Schnitzler probably said it all. But as a version for our times this one by Mr Gill is pretty good and his cast is even better.

The lovers
Leemore Marrett Jr; Lauren Samuels; Alex Vlahos: Amanda Wilkin.

Director: Max Gill.
Set & Costume Design: Frankie Bradshaw.
Lighting Design: Jack Weir.
Sound & Composition: Nathan Klein.

2017-02-14 10:47:38

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