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Love is all you need: The Island @cervantesthtr

A drama set on the seventh floor of a non-descript hospital waiting room may not be everyone's idea of a great night at the theatre. But love and all other forms of the human condition are dissected in Juan Carlos Rubio's The Island. Translated by Tim Gutteridge, it feels like everything is up for grabs. What is love? Is it a bond between two women with a fifteen-year age gap? Is it the love between a mother and her son with a severe unknown disability? A wonderful life full of health and happiness is not always an option on the menu, and the choices may become a bit less palatable. Throughout a series of sometimes banal conversations, what comes out is a story of two women with lives that are separate and together. And while the piece becomes darker on one level as it progresses, it never ceases to fascinate and draw further insights into the couples. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre .  A couple waits in a hospital waiting room for the outcome of an accident

Summer loving: The Lady With A Dog @TabardTheatreUK

The first flicker of love, marriage and commitment are the subjects of The Lady With a Dog. Chekhov’s summer romance in Yalta is updated to 1920s Britain and France by writer and director Mark Giesser. But the performances and brisk pace capture the fantasy and romance of the story. It’s currently playing at the Tabard Theatre after a successful run at the White Bear Theatre.

It opens with the lady and her (imagined) Pomeranian dog being eyed up by Damian Granville (Richard Lynson). He’s a London-based banker on holiday alone in Scotland. His plan is to get her attention by feeding the dog a few biscuits before working his charm on the lady. He’s also married but it’s a thoroughly modern one where his wife allows him to holiday alone in search of other women. But the lady Anne Dennis (Beth Burrows) is also married and holidaying alone due to her husband’s work.

Jusxtaposed with their aquaintance are unhappy conversations with their real partners. Soon an attraction develops between the two and they find themselves falling in love for the first time. When Anne has to return to Wiltshire they assume at first they’ll never meet again. But their continued feelings make them go looking for each other. 

The cast bring to life this story with their nuanced and tender performances. Duncan Macinnes and Laura Glover are the loveless spouses of the two. They also serve well to explain the characters with their nagging and disinterest. In the end you feel this is a meditation on fantasy and escapism as much as it is about rediscovering life. 

The Art Deco set by Oscar Selfridge keeps the action rooted in the interwar period. It’s too bad the character of Beth wasn’t travelling with a more sedate dog. Working with a real life Pomeranian onstage would be a theatrical disaster. But it was nicely imagined throughout the piece. 

Directed by Mark Giesser, The Lady With A Dog is at the Tabard Theatre until 7 April


Photos by Andreas Lambis

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