Sunday 8 May 2016

Nude - Review

Hope Theatre, London


Written by Paul Hewitt
Directed by Ian Nicholson

The company
Inside the narrow space of The Hope Theatre in Islington, Ian Nicholson directs Nude, Paul Hewitt’s intense new work about love, life and fate that is deeply inspired by the classic verse, The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam.

A man and a woman, strangers, inhabit Minglu Wang’s minimalistic neon-lit cube. They bump into each other, fall in love and go on to share and cope with both the joys of happy moments along with the anger and frustration the sad times, until a tragic end. Outside, like voyeurs of their intimate fortunes, is the audience. Between the two, physically and symbolically, we find Fate, half omnipresent narrator and half puppet-master of their lives.

Here, Fate is real and played by a white-clad Roshni Rathore, moving around the space, in and out of the on-stage frame. Intertwining her epic narration with the couple’s earthly dialogues she seems to dance with a language that is ethereal yet truthful. Fate is clearly the voice of something bigger, destined to exist long after the end of this particular love story. Rathore’s ability to embody the super-humanity of her character is a high note of the production.

Hewitt’s protagonists are Man and Woman, two archetypal, emblematic figures that are rightly unnamed – they might be us – and they engage powerfully with the audience.

As Man, Edward Nash’s performance is genuine and wholehearted. He successfully conveys his character’s development over the years from clumsy lover to cheating partner, to old codger.

Woman, is played by Michelle Fahrenheim with an overwhelming intensity. In particular her long monologue about her disease and imminent death is touching and honest.

At just 60 minutes long this is a brief and delicate piece of theatre. Perhaps not especially innovative in its plot (a little reminiscent of Nick Payne’s Constellations) Nude makes for an enjoyable and well acted production.

Runs until 21st May - then tours
Reviewed by Simona Negretto
Photo credit: Helen Murray

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