It was a real pleasure to be back at the refurbished Donmar Warehouse after all this time, taking full advantage of the extensive alterations made including larger bar space, improved access and auditorium improvements.
During the last eighteen months, Cordelia Lynn was commissioned to write a new play especially for the Donmar, Love and Other Acts of Violence, a most intriguing title.
The play is in two distinct parts lasting in total 100 minutes without an interval. In the first part, written in a series of short scenes, we are rapidly introduced to a young Jewish physicist and an activist poet who gatecrashes her party. They fall in love. As society splinters around them, the couple’s struggles erupt into violence. This is superbly written, simply staged in a bare space (Basia Binkowska), directed with great energy and understanding by Elayce Ismail and superbly acted by Tom Mothersdale and Abigail Weinstock.
Mothersdale’s portrayal is one of a highly irritating young man, who rarely seems to listen, is always ‘right’ and who rides roughshod over the woman he says he loves – assuming we believe he knows what love is. We cannot see why anyone would fall in love with him, but see it happening and, thanks to the writing, can understand. He is totally believable and drives the first half of the play forward.
Weinstock is much calmer and down to earth, but, in spite of herself, is swept up in his enthusiasms, even if she is not prepared to take part in his various protests. The scene where Mothersdale confesses to having killed a man during the demonstration he is taking part in is very poignant. Weinstock’s is a beautifully understated performance, and works all the better because of that.
In fact, the first part of the play could easily stand by itself as a very powerful piece of drama.
The second part, called the “epilogue” in the programme, but seemingly almost as long as the first part, takes us back to the city of Lemberg (now Lviv, a stunningly beautiful city in Ukraine) after the Russian revolution and during the final year of World War I when the Poles, Ukrainians, Austrians and Russians were fighting for control, with the Jews, as so often in history, stuck in the middle. Here we see Abigail Weinstock again, now called Baba, the two young brothers (believably acted by Daniel Lawson and Charlie Tumbridge) and grandfather Tatte (Richard Katz – superb use of eyes and facial expression: we know just what he is thinking). This part of the play is much more naturalistic in style, and as such seems much less powerful than what preceded it. Indeed, we can anticipate the denouement long before it occurs.
Joshua Pharo ensures that not only can we always see the actors’ expressions, his lighting design also greatly aids the various moods, especially of the first part, whilst the overloud sound design is by Richard Hammarton.
All in all, some superb acting in the first half of a play which runs out of steam halfway through.
Review by John Groves
A young Jewish physicist and an activist poet meet at a party and fall in love. As society splinters around them, the couple’s struggle to survive erupts into violence.
Cordelia Lynn’s new play is a subversive and intimate love story about inheritance and the cycles of politics and history.
Cast: Richard Katz (Tatte), Tom Mothersdale (Him/Man), Abigail Weinstock (Her/Baba), and Finley Glasgow and Daniel Lawson share the role of Brother 1, and Alexander Fitzgerald and Charlie Tumbridge share the role of Brother 2.
Designer: Basia Bińkowska; Lighting Designer: Joshua Pharo; Sound Designer: Richard Hammarton; Movement Director: Yarit Dor; Casting Director Anna Cooper CDG
Donmar Warehouse presents
The World Première of
LOVE AND OTHER ACTS OF VIOLENCE
By Cordelia Lynn
Directed by Elayce Ismail; Designer: Basia Bińkowska; Lighting Designer: Joshua Pharo
Sound Designer: Richard Hammarton; Movement Director: Yarit Dor
Casting Director Anna Cooper CDG
7 October – 27 November 2021
Press Night: 14 October 2021 at 7pm