Review – The Treatment

Review – The Treatment Written by Martin Crimp. Directed by Sam Grafton. Hicham Yezza First, a disclaimer: I’m NOT a Martin Crimp fan, too many of his lines have that Becket-light scent as far as am concerned, but after watching this, I at least, at last, understand why it won (among other things) the John […]

Arts & Culture - Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2008 15:56 - 0 Comments

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Review – The Treatment

Written by Martin Crimp. Directed by Sam Grafton.

Hicham Yezza

First, a disclaimer: I’m NOT a Martin Crimp fan, too many of his lines have that Becket-light scent as far as am concerned, but after watching this, I at least, at last, understand why it won (among other things) the John Witting Award.

The play is a series of revisited vignettes rather than full-blown acts and is based around the story of a young woman named Anne who, at the start of Act 1, is seen telling her life story, a confused and confusing tale of being abused (or not) by her husband (he has allegedly been tying her up to a chair and covering her mouth with duct tape). This she tells to Jennifer and Andrew, a (married) couple of film producers who are seemingly keen on adapting her story for a film (or a play? A musical? It’s not clear). Of course, things do not go as planned; Anne is slowly sucked into the tricky dynamics of the couple’s power games and she quickly discovers how to exercise her own leverage.

Although pretentious dialogue keeps fighting its way into the text, the bulk of the material is reasonably edgy and, when needed, just the right side of menacing. The sexual scenes are handled with suitably mechanical abandon and although they did seem to jolt some spectators two notches up the tension-meter, they might have been too unsettling to allow the audience to regain its original neutral lucidity (was that the intention?). But then again Immersion-Distance is a very precarious equilibrium to establish and a hard trade-off for any director to pull off and the intimacy a theatre of this size instils in the viewer is certainly a factor. Maia Gibbs masterfully juggles the obsessive dichotomy of Helpless girl/All-conquering-Vixen that Anne alternately displays. Gibbs’ ability to shift registers from Soft- Spoken surrender to Top-of-thevoice Indignation is remarkable and although her tendency to overarticulate at certain moments can be distracting, she has certainly delivered a commendable showstealing performance. Sam Psyk is excellent as the resolute, driven Jennifer, her comic delivery is pitch-perfect but her control over the more angry scenes is less pronounced. Confusedly, Ali Blackwell (who plays Andrew) seems to muster a much better delivery in his scenes with Jennifer than with those with Anne (with whom he has fallen in love). Unexpectedly, I enjoyed the Taxi sequences, and although I thought the three principal cast members performed with great competence the same can’t be said about the Actor who plays Simon (Anna’s unstable Husband) who did seem to be taking his instability rather too literally and could have done with a bit more subtlety in his physical “choreography”, his performance lacked punch and was too reminiscent of a Hollywood oddball to be credible, this has certainly made him the weakest link. Although the crowd seemed uncertain at times and jubilant at others, it seems to me the show was a solid success. The play could’ve done with a bit of trimming but the direction and the stage setting were competent and sure-footed and the cast handled this sometimesdifficult text with an impressive panache and dexterity and should be congratulated profusely.

March 2006

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