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A CurtainUp London Review
Scenes From a Marriage
The play, adapted for the stage by Joanna Murray-Smith traces the marriage of Marianne and Johan (Mark Bazeley) from their giggly and coy, early days when they are interviewed by a women's magazine, through infidelity, separation and re-connection. That is as far as the marital full circle gets.
In the opening scene, Marianne is 37 and Johan 40 and although they have two children and are approaching middle age, she is very smiley and in love with her husband. The contrast between them and others shows up when they invite a warring couple to dinner. Katrina (Aislinn Sands) and Peter (Shane Attwooll) whose marriage is on the rocks, verbally battle all night long. Later when Marianne says she is pregnant, Johan says he doesn't want to go through this again so it's tears for her and "Get rid of it" for him. We see her in hospital post abortion and suddenly we realise that Marianne isn't smiling anymore.
In between scenes there are video clips of birthdays and Christmases, them at play with their daughters. We sense the marriage is disintegrating as they argue more and Johan finds another younger woman and eventually leaves Marianne. However, a year after their split, they meet and when his "new" woman is away he visits Marianne. Now the original attraction resurfaces but there is an undercurrent of resentment and violence.
Olivia Williams gives a remarkable and intense performance, exposing vulnerability and Marianne's skills at recovery. Mark Bazeley too is excellent, although his character is a lot less sympathetic than that of his stage wife. As they both look back on their marriage and split, Johan says "We defined each other by acquisitions," his interpretation of what went wrong. This outstanding production will keep you thinking for many hours after seeing the show as we examine the unique connection of human relationships and their liability to dissolution and despair.
Robert Jones has designed a Scandinavian themed set that is added to and taken away from for each scene with partitions opening to reveal an office setting or the home or an consulting room
Ingmar Bergman when writing about his original piece, said "This couple allow themselves to be brave, cowardly, happy, sad, angry, loving, confused, uncertain, satisfied, cunning, unpleasant, childish, mean, unfathomable, magnificent, petty, physically affectionate, heartless, stupid, wretched, helpless . . . in a nutshell, typical human beings."
All is directed expertly from Trevor Nunn as we feel, he is reflecting on the ending of his own marriage. Nunn's recently announced foray into direction is a stage production of Fatal Attraction!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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