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A CurtainUp London Review
State of Emergency
Falk Richter's play is translated by David Tushingham who has translated the work of several modern German playwrights, including Roland Schimmelpfennig and David Gieselmann. State of Emergency is for the most part a dialogue between the woman (Geraldine Alexander) and her husband (Jonathan Cullen). She is observant and questioning, acting as if her husband is a stranger, an alien being who has been substituted for the real person. She is obsessive and talkative, he is evasive, shifty and uncommunicative. It is a clever device because as the audience we cannot be sure who is unhinged here.
She complains and describes what she hears outside. She thinks that someone has left the gate open and that people are coming into the enclave at night, there is the sound of shooting and sometimes they see bodies on the fence. She points out to him the value of living there, the security, the protection from crime and the outside world. He counters with how isolated they are and how none of their old friends has managed to get into the scheme. She berates him for not performing better at work and so risking the security of their tenure and how impossible it will be to find anywhere else because they are in their mid forties. She complains about their once a fortnight sex life. He is ineffectual and insipid. A late entrant into the play is their teenage son (James Lamb) who emotionally is committed to the risky society on the other side of the fence.
Whilst Geraldine Alexander's tense, single eyebrow raising portrait is the most effective of the evening, as a whole State of Emergency is more dramatic innuendo than beguiling dramatic tension.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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