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Verendus Theatrical
Holden Street Theatres
Until 23 Jan 2021

Review by John Wells

David Hare’s wonderful, complex drama of love and re-crimination is brought to life with vigour and intensity.

Tom, a brash and successful restaurateur (Brant Eustice), bursts into a cold North London flat as his former mistress Kyra (Alicia Zorkovic) is preparing dinner. Tom, prowling around the apartment with predatory disdain, confronts her: Why did she leave? Why did she run from their life of wealth and passion? Kyra, a self-contained and committed teacher to troubled children, begins to explain how they split apart, and how her life has the fulfilment it never had when she was with him. As the night progresses, they are far apart and close together, constantly sailing away from each other, then tacking back.

Hare’s script begins with binaries: Tom is rich and pampered, an East London pauper made good; Kyra, a refugee from a privileged family, can barely make ends meet. She has crossed London on a bus to get home, he has a limousine and a chauffeur waiting outside. He has the political bombast of the self-righteous right; she is a strong but brittle social progressive. But Hare’s characterisations move from the broad to the forensically detailed: with deft particularity, Hare creates two compelling, shifting, grating characters, who dance around each other with great dramatic effect. Their barbed jousting is brutal and unsparing, but there are wonderful moments of humour and genuine feeling.

This wordy, high-wire act of emotional commitment requires actors of the highest standard. Director Tim Williams’ first success is casting Zorkovic and Eustice; Williams also succeeds with an unhurried pace and great emotional clarity.

Both actors embrace the conflicts and complexities of their characters. Zorkovic is clear-eyed, passionate and measured, with a steely, desperately sad resolve. At times she is so still, wounded and beautiful; at other times, an annoying martyr. Eustice is both harsh and pathetic, restless, charming and petulantly pitiful. Where Zorkovic is physically self-contained, Eustice is demonstrative: pacing, expounding, booming. Their performances are skillfully entwined: this is high quality acting.

*Brant Eustice has appeared in two plays directed by John Wells in 2006 and 2009.