Theatre Review - Nineteen Gardens

David Sturzaker and Olivia Le Andersen in Nineteen Gardens [The Other Richard]

THIS taut two-hander examines the fallout from a passionate relationship between an Eastern European woman, Aga (Olivia Le Andersen), and an older English man, John (David Sturzaker).

The pair meet in a cafĂ© and talk about their past time together. It’s been almost two years since they split. When they embarked on their affair they had both been married. While Aga’s marriage crumbled and she is left working as a chambermaid to support her two children, John carried on as normal and remained happily married to his wife, Cecilia.

Polish writer Magdalena Miecznicka demonstrates the part economics can play in a love affair. Those with money often dictate the pace of the relationship, when and where to meet and at what point it’s time to cut ties.

At first the observations about wealth and class feel a little trite: John talks about growing up with horses, and takes his privilege for granted.

Things are equally black and white from Aga’s perspective. She takes a bus, because she can’t afford a tube, and recognises the difference between shopping at Aldi and Tesco, between buying cheese straws, which her children crave, and Aldi’s cheese twists which they find disgusting.

Gradually, darker motivations emerge. John is unrepentant and proudly declares his undiminished love for his wife. Aga reasons that he could easily afford to buy her a modest two-bed flat in north London.

Alice Hamilton’s production zips along, played out on Sarah Beaton’s blank canvas – the white backdrop changes colour to reflect a change in location, and bursts of music signify a shift in mood or register.

While the writing occasionally descends into cliché, terrific performances ensures the drama remains on track and this is a promising UK debut from Miecznicka.

Until December 9

Orignally published by Camden New Journal