Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Review: 'When You Cure Me'

Last week a group of us went to see 'When You Cure Me' at the Bush Theatre in west London. It was the premier of the play, written by Jack Thorne. The action takes place in the teenage bedroom of Rachel (played by Morven Christie) who finds herself partially paralysed after a traumatic event. I don't want to give too much away here as the premise of the play sounds very off-putting, but it is definitely worth seeing for anyone interested in patient perspectives of trauma and the burden it places on friends and families. Rachel's boyfriend, Peter, desperately wants to help, but to what extent must he bend to Rachel's vacillating and contradictory whims?

The intimacy of the Bush Theatre and the realism of the production (be warned: involving bodily functions), combined with emotional intensity, makes the role of Rachel a tall order. Christie delivers on this very convincingly. The teenage angst of Peter is well portrayed by Samuel Barnett. Gwynth Strong (Cassandra of 'Fools and Horses' fame) plays Rachel's well-meaning mother (although one kept expecting her to come out with 'Oh, Rodneigh!').

The action forces the audience to move between various points of view. Although Rachel's situation demands sympathy, her exasperating behaviour shows that there are limits to what victims (of crime or illness) can reasonably expect of those around them. According to this interview in Time Out, the play was informed by the writer's experience of being bed-ridden with the dermatological disease cholinergic urticaria. It runs until 17 December. More details here.

1 comment:

aj said...

This play is a grower. I left the theatre pensive, and the next day was sure I had liked it. The intensity is brilliantly created and maintained by the small cast, and I was inspired that such young actors could carry such a performance. They are young but not adolescent, yet capture the awkward interactions of teenage life, especially sexual issues.

The set up of the theatre means we feel like part of the furniture of Rachel's bedroom; at times like guilty voyeurs, knowing we shouldn't be eavesdropping on such private moments.

The set was very detailed and well put together, which really helped to create the ambience of a teenage girl's bedroom. The only drawback of this little theatre is the noise of the traffic (especially sirens) from outside - but in this case it didn't detract from the play.