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Charlotte and Theodore at Richmond Theatre

In this serious yet very amusing play, we meet Charlotte (Eve Ponsonby) and Theodore (Kris Marshall). Two dreamers – colleagues, lovers and husband and wife with two young children – determined to make a difference in the world and to keep the spark in their relationship and family alive. Like the protagonists in a Greek tragedy, the couple find their personal relationship threatened by ideological tensions that dominate their era. As university academic philosophers they can identify and name the conflicting principles, but in the long term that does not seem to do much for them either as individuals or partners.

Charlotte & Theodore, ©Alastair Muir.
Charlotte & Theodore, ©Alastair Muir.

Ryan Craig’s new, two-handed, play follows Lotty and Teddy in a decade-long romance, occasionally using flashbacks, which do not aid immediate understanding, but makes us, the audience, work. They try to pick their way through the professional minefield of cancel culture, gender politics and power struggles that are in their very modern workplace and even more in their modern relationship. The main casualties are of course themselves. The two actors are onstage for the whole play, which is very believable, engrossing and well-structured. It is also at times very funny as one might expect with Kris Marshall as one of the protagonists. He has the gift of looking very relaxed, almost asleep at times, but his timing is impeccable. He uses his height to great effect, often appearing gangly and uncoordinated, only to suddenly wham home a hilarious ‘throw away’ comment.

Eve Ponsonby is more than a match for him, especially in the scene early in the play when she is applying to be his research assistant, with apparently few qualifications. The pair spar beautifully together and we are soon drawn into their life and relationship, at first empathising with one of them, then seeing the other’s point of view. The two actors seem instinctively to know how to pace the show in order to make it as involving as possible and have been greatly helped here by director Terry Johnson who has succeeded in making quite complex ideas and theories accessible.

Some ninety-minute plays flow much more successfully without an interval: this play needs and gets one, otherwise, it would be too exhausting to watch!

Simon Kenny has designed a simple, effective set, especially the use of stainless steel and glass furniture, the lighting (Ben Ormerod) aids the various moods of the play and the sound design (John Leonard) is subtle and unobtrusive.

A fascinating, involving and most enjoyable evening at the theatre – recommended!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

Ryan Craig’s timely new play follows Lotty and Teddy on a decade-long romance, picking their way through the professional minefield of cancel culture, gender politics and power struggles that is their very modern workplace and even more modern relationship.

Kris Marshall stars as Teddy, a charming, idealistic university professor at the top of his game, in Ryan Craig’s witty and challenging new play. Together with his wife and colleague Lotty, Teddy is determined to make a difference in their academic world and keep the spark in their relationship alive

Charlotte and Theodore is at Richmond Theatre from Tuesday 21st March, 2023 to Saturday 25th March, 2023.

Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, TW9 1QJ
Tue 21 Mar – Sat 25 Mar 2023

Book Tickets for Richmond Theatre

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Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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