REVIEW: Duet For One, Chichester Festival Theatre

Belinda Lang as Stephanie Abrahams in Duet For One. Picture: Robert Day
Belinda Lang as Stephanie Abrahams in Duet For One. Picture: Robert Day
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The Chichester winter season continues apace with the Birmingham Rep-supported Duet For One by Tom Kempinski.

A two-hander on a melancholy subject – Stephanie, a violinist of enormous talent but with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis which ends her career, seeks psychological support from Dr Feldmann – it actually makes for a surprisingly comic evening.

As Feldmann, Oliver Cotton has the more technical job. The foil for Stephanie’s angers, frustrations and antagonism and rarely allowed to give voice to his own feelings, he listens superbly and his stillness is a masterclass to actors of the Always On The Move school.

Belinda Lang’s Stephanie is full of – but in denial about – bitterness and anger at the loss of her career and the potential loss of her husband.

In trying to make light of her circumstances, the Stephanie of the first act is a waterfall of words, tumbling at machine-gun speed – ducking, diving, justifying, denying and rarely, if ever, facing the truth.

Lang’s transformation into the second act Stephanie – slower, ready to colour her tirades with obscenities to shock and mock the psychiatrist and – ultimately – willing to embrace the help he offers, is powerful and effective.

It’s here until Saturday. See it if you can.