Sunday, 10 March 2013

A TIME TO REAP-Royal Court

A good play is one which manages to eke out truths from both the actors and the audience. Good acting is when that action is done naturally and believably, almost imperceptively until there is no seam between the two, and you feel at the end as though you have shared something. The intimacy of a small theatre can either have great impact or be a terrifying and uncomfortable exposure of incompetence. In A Time to Reap upstairs at the Royal Court, it is the former. With an outstanding and lively performance by Sinead Matthews, the young Polish playwright Anna Wakulik examines the controversial topics of abortion, family, and the Church. Cleverly written and inventively staged, the play takes you through the lives of the main characters in a few moments, before settling down into the main story. Marysia (Sinead), a 17 year old who voluntarily has an abortion after a consensual dalliance with a priest at the summer camp, falls in love with with the gynecologist (Owen Teale) who does the procedure, which is of course against the laws of both Church and State. Over the course of the play, she gets pregnant again, this time with the son of her lover (Max Bennett) who is a hedonistic faux student living dishonestly off of his father's largesse in London. The whole edifice is built upon a foundation of lies, lack of commitment, hypocrisy, and a Church-imposed morality that though few follow, dominates both each individual's and the country's life. This play is about the Poland in all of us. The performance so drained the actors that they didn't come back for the second curtain call, though from the comment by the American behind me ("this is the longest I have heard a British audience clap"), it was not for our lack of trying. Highly recommended.

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