TU Y TERAZ
by Nicola Werenowska.
Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU To 19 January.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 3.30pm
TICKETS: 020 7722 9301.
then Nuffield Theatre (Studio) University Road Southampton SO17 1TR 4-6 February.
then Mercury Theatre Studio Balkerne Gate Colchester CO1 1PT 13-16 February 2013.
TICKETS: 01206 573948.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 December.
Colchester-bound play about a Colchester immigrant offers a particular view.
Here and now is where and when Nicola Werenowska’s new play works best, as well as being a translation of her Polish title. And a thorough translation of herself from Poland to England is Marysia’s aim. Arriving with a young son into poor rented accommodation, she soon moves somewhere functional but better – designer Kerry Bradley hasn’t the opportunity to show the contrast, focusing on the later home, where son Kuba is a lumbering awkward teenager.
Marysia refuses to speak Polish with her sister Ana; she is willing (though perhaps not happy) to be known at work as Mary. If she reads the kind of paper that demonises Polish immigrants and single mothers, she’d probably agree enthusiastically, being determined to succeed and criticising (as so often with the last generation’s arrivals) the new generation of immigrant. Werenowska places her in a banking job, at the heart of right-wing values and, though she focuses on domestic relationships, it would have been no surprise to see Marysia becoming a right-wing MP.
Mark Strepan shows her son as no more or less troublesome than any decent lad with no father-figure to measure himself against. He’s bright and if he isn’t keeping up with the homework he claims to be doing, he’s as good at fooling us as his, not easily fooled, mother. Both he and Marysia’s sister Ana, who turns up needing money and somewhere to stay, are unable to pierce her resolute determination that everyone make their own way. Anna Elijasz suggests a wayward joy her sister’s missing, but Marysia has the strength of the materially successful.
In Anya Sowinski’s performance, the effort of success increasingly shows through. Weariness lies close to determination and success consumes life. The play’s less clear – perhaps deliberately – on why Marysia rejects Poland, and refuses to speak to Ana in Polish. It could be personal – the second act moves beyond pre-interval linear realism to shadowy suggestions of domestic cruelty – and Werenowska may be right to leave it vague. For good and ill, Here and Now is what Marysia’s chosen and Sowinski’s performance shows how that can cost.
Marysia: Anya Sowinski.
Kuba : Mark Strepan.
Janusz : George Lasha.
Ana: Anna Elijasz.
Director: Sam Potter.
Designer: Kerry Bradley.
Lighting: Matt O’Leary.