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A CurtainUp London Review
Tender, which takes for its theme the quest for relationships in the big city, has plenty of interesting characters and a lively witty take on loneliness. Abi Morgan looks at female roles, at single women and mothers, as faithful partners and as unfaithful ones. Her characters are in stressful jobs where work pressures overflow into their relationships.
The play follows seven people with lives that overlap and paths that cross. Tash (Kate Fleetwood), is a single thirty something who has serial one night stands and flits from job to job; her friend Hen (Caroline Faber) who works in a centre helping those whose relatives have gone missing is in a long term relationship with a builder, Al (David Kennedy) and she is expecting their first child. Gloria (Nicolas Redmond) is in her middle years and her husband of more than twenty years just upped and left one day and is posted missing. Nathan (Sean O'Callaghan) is a lonely young widower in a high powered job, trying to come to terms with the suicide of his wife. Squeal (Nick Bagnall) is a young, hard working hospital doctor with issues about his upbringing. Marvin (Benny Young) is Gloria's missing husband and cleans for Nathan.
Kate Fleetwood gives an almost crazed performance as the fast talking girl with staring eyes who will not be tied down. Nicola Redmond poignantly plays the abandoned wife who is befriended by the doctor who is looking for a "mother" figure. Sean Callaghan is likeable as the sombre and grieving Nathan.
Anthony Clark directs pairs of performers with the many scene changes allowing us to see different combinations of characters in a variety of settings -- all of which have the permanent backdrop of black and white photographs of the faces of missing people on three sides of the stage.
Abi Morgan draws interesting characters and their predicaments are ones we can identify with, often expressed with humour, sometimes with despair. The story lines have no neat endings, and there are no resolved relationships which may leave you feeling dissatisfied until you remember that often life has no neat endings.