Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Duet For One (theatre)

I used to love the Channel 4 comedy Drop The Dead Donkey so am excited that one of its stars, albeit in a very different role, is coming to Eastbourne at the end of November. 

Haydn Gwynne will star as celebrated concert violinist Stephanie Abrahams in Tom Kempinski's play, Duet For One. This Calibre Productions tour is directed by Robin Herford and has been designed by Michael Holt. The play, which closely mirrors the life of cellist Jacqueline du Pre, premiered in 1980 at the Bush Theatre in London, which is reknowned for nurturing new plays and playwrights. It was also made into a film of the same name, released in 1986, which starred Julie Andrews, Alan Bates and Max Von Sydow.

Abrahams is forced to stop playing the violin when she is struck down by Multiple Sclerosis. Convinced that her life has no meaning without her music, she falls into despair, becoming increasingly isolated and even suicidal. The play takes the form of six sessions between Abrahams and her psychiatrist, Alfred Feldmann (William Gaunt), who is trying to get her to re-evaluate her life and identify some form of a future without the violin. Duet For One is dramatically compelling without being sentimental or mawkish and asks the huge question, how does someone continue living when all their hope has been taken away?

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 27th Nov - Sat 1st Dec, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets, various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Tourist Information Office and the Box Office.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be interested to know other opinions of Duet For One because I am torn between 'hmmm' and 'meh'. While the topic of the play is admirable, I came away unsatisfied. Haydn Gwynne did very well with the material she had, but William Gaunt seemed a bit flat and I think this script wasted a lot of their talent. I did like that Abrahams is not a particularly likeable character and her mood swings were well handled.
    The set is nice and conveys the impression of money-no-object that the characters later discuss. I did take a dislike to the floor lamp but am not really sure why. It just seemed anachronistic.
    The first scene is stilted with a lot of exposition. As the script becomes less self-conscious, it flows much better and by the interval, I was enjoying myself. However the second act, which starts well, descends into a preachy style with long monologues that don't always feel as though the characters would have spoken them.
    The play is now thirty years old and perhaps the change in social attitudes to disability and mental health since it was written are the reasons I had issues with it. Because of the excellent theatre I have seen recently, I expected more from this play and was ultimately disappointed.