Theatre Review - Winner's Curse

I suspect Clive Anderson hoped there’d be more improv and fewer lines to learn when he agreed to star in Daniel Taub and Dan Patterson’s play about peace negotiation. His powers of recall seemed a little shaky in the opening scenes of Winner’s Curse.

Hugo Leitski (Anderson) is looking back on his life in conflict resolution. Arthur Conti gives a winning performance as his younger self, and Michael Maloney also impresses as chief negotiator. They are in the imaginary Eastern European country of Karvistan, discussing borders with the irascible General Marek Gromski (Barrie Rutter) of rival state, Moldonia. They meet in the Black Lagoon Lodge run by no-nonsense landlady (Nichola McAuliffe).

Anderson comes into his own when allowed free rein to interact with the audience. We are encouraged to join in various experiments (thumb wrestling, tracing a P on our foreheads) related to negotiation theory.

Daub – a former ambassador and member of Israel’s negotiation team – clearly knows his stuff, while Patterson has a keen eye for comedy. However, the play never coalesces into something meaningful.

Despite the creative clout behind Jez Bond’s production, it feels ill-timed to stage a comedy-drama about a war over territory with the devastating conflict in Ukraine entering its second year.

until March 11

Originally published by the Islington Tribune