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A CurtainUp London Review
The Domino Heart
So we have The Domino Heart based around the surgery of heart transplants. Medically, when a patient receives a heart lung transplant it has better outcomes if the patient receives both the lungs and heart from the same donor, even though the patient only "needs" the lungs. His perfectly good heart can then be released for another transplant, for someone only needing a heart. Hence the concept of a heart donor who is living. In this play, the domino heart describes one heart that is passed from a man killed in a car accident to two others in turn and the playwright follows the stories of each owner of the heart.
The first donor in The Domino Heart is not living. In Part 1, "The Living Room", we hear Peter's story from his wife Cara (Amanda Hale). It is tale of romance and infidelity, of guilt and grief. Cara describes what happens in the hours leading up to the accident and the argument they were having when they crashed. These feelings fill up her mind and spill over as she looks back on her life with Peter. Faced with the physical transplant she reflects on his metaphoric heart.
In Part 2, "This Vital Fire", we meet the Reverend Mortimer Wright (Lawrence Werber) who is a minister awaiting a heart transplant. He reflects on a girlfriend Bailey who committed suicide and his part in her life, playing and replaying in his mind his responsibility.
In Part 3, "The Horse's Mouth", there is a paradigm shift to Leo Juarez (Rob Cavazos) now in his corporate office in Chicago who tells us about his poor background and his business success. As he changes his shirt in the office, we see the long scar running down his chest. He has received a heart but will he now show any "heart" in his ruthless business dealings?
In the final Part 4, "The Blind and Familiar", Cara manages to look forward to the future after the trauma of grieving for Peter, and instead realises her duty to their daughter Grace and the necessity to move on.
All three actors are onstage together but two are passive while the other's scenes take place and in the last scene Cara walks out of the room onto the freshness of the green grass of springtime.
I really liked Amanda Hale's sensitive performance as in this most moving of the roles as she twitches and strains with the emotion of grief and conscience. Lawrence Werber has a benevolent quirkiness and Rob Cavazos portrays his unsympathetic character with an icy detachment from humanity.
The Domino Heart is so well written that I shall look out for Matthew Edison's other writing and for First Sight's productions. The Finborough's knack of choosing plays with affecting depth is unsurpassed in London.
Good news that the Finborough Arms, the pub under the theatre will be reopening very soon after extensive renovation.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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