Theatre review - La Musica

A COUPLE meet in hotel lobby to discuss their divorce. Both are in new relationships. The hotel, we discover, is where they first fell in love.

Jeff James and Ultz’s staging of Marguerite Duras’ poignant play (its first London revival in two decades) is certainly radical but not necessarily effective. Michel (Sam Troughton) and Anne-Marie (Emily Barclay) sit on a raised platform with their backs to the audience. Blown up close-ups of their faces are projected onto a wall. While this allows for every flicker of emotion, irritation and hurt to be conveyed in minute detail, it lessens the dramatic tension and detracts from the storytelling. We concentrate on their faces rather than the words and this is a shame because Duras writes very well about the breakdown of a marriage – the memories, regrets and darker hints of betrayal and violence.

In the second half, some of the audience have to move their chairs, others stand, encircling the couple as if they are in a boxing ring. This engenders a sense of claustrophobia – as if we are eavesdropping on their conversation – but at the same time we feel unable to take sides. Both characters are flawed and both engage our sympathy but, ultimately, we recognise, as they do, that there is no way back; the passion is spent.

Barclay and Troughton give finely nuanced performances, but their relative youth lessens the impact (and heartbreak) of a couple divorcing after many years of marriage.

Young Vic Theatre

020 7922 2922

Originally published by Camden Review