Monday, 19 November 2012

Illusions at RADAR 2012 - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Bush Theatre, London

Illusions is a play by Russian Playwright Ivan Viripaev, on this occasion translated by Cazimir Liske and presented by Actors Touring Company at the Bush Theatre. It’s a lot like Closer by Patrick Marber, but with less irritating characters who keep their feelings pent up to avoid playing Wife Swap, as opposed to swinging with open arms. The play is being performed as part of RADAR 2012 at the Bush Theatre, a festival to celebrate the future of new writing.

The play relates the romantic lives of two couples, Denny/Sandra and Albert/Margaret, who all at some point are convinced they love each other. An endless series of revelations are divulged directly to the audience through non-dramatic readings of monologues from four speakers. The style is more like storytelling than character performance based; the readers do not speak for only one character each. It is relieving for such highly emotive topics to be discussed in a relaxed fashion. The opening reader and the musician showed particularly good vocal presentation.

The play explores how people make generalisations about love on the basis of their own feelings: from the borderline offensive declaration of superiority over people whose love is not reciprocated to the realisation that love is not something in need of definition or explanation at all, it just exists. The relationship (or non) between what we call ‘true love’ and reciprocity comes around regularly, highlighting well how people are so easily swayed in their beliefs.

The musical contributions are neither intrusive nor boring; they were a welcomed addition to a performance that has the potential to drag, and the performers deserve credit for fending off this possibility. There was a plot twist nearer the end which felt like it was forced into the script for the sake of an affecting climax, but overall the stories were entirely believable. Unlike with Closer, the desire to physically hurt one of the characters did not rear its head by the end.

This play was exemplary in its exploration of non-acting based theatricality, and I hope it will reappear for a longer run in London. In the meantime, the industry in Britain should continue not to ignore new playwrights from non-English speaking countries. The further we distance ourselves from the English-speaking dominance present in popular film and music, the better.

RADAR 2012 runs until 22 November 2012. 
@BushTheatre #RADAR2012

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