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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Royal Court Theatre        Autumn 2003

That there is something incestuous about the coups and countercoups that regularly mark South American politics is the metaphor that Swedish playwright Lars Noren makes far too explicit in a play that aims for tragedy and only achieves soap opera and unintended farce.

Francesca Annis and Nicholas Le Prevost play a pair of Chilean expatriates, leftist intellectuals tortured and exiled by the Pinochet government twenty years ago (The play is set in 1993), when they were forced to leave their young son behind.

His loss has left them emotionally dead and their marriage barely functional, despite their external success in their new lives in France.

Then they meet a young man approximately their lost son's age, and before you can say either Oedipus or Joe Orton he has bedded both of them, only mentioning afterwards that he was quasi-orphaned back in Chile twenty years ago when his parents were exiled. . . .

From there the play actually sinks even further into self-parodying soap opera territory, as unbelievable as that may seem, and some awkward attempts to turn the Oedipal story into a political metaphor simply fall flat.

The always admirable Francesca Annis and the always reliable Nicholas LePrevost do their best to make the stick figures they play come alive, and actually achieve some almost-tragic stature before things get too silly.

Tom Hardy as the boy is so unsuccessful at creating a reality that you are not sure in his first few appearances whether he is meant to be playing the same character or a string of similar young men.

Playing a TV interviewer who is nothing more than a plot device to allow for reams of exposition, Ingrid Lucy makes the woman seem especially stupid and insensitive, which is, I suppose, a testament to her acting.

James Macdonald directs it all with a glacial slowness that sucks out any dramatic life that might have remained, and with such awkwardness that the cast are halfway into their curtain calls before the audience realizes the play is over.

Gerald Berkowitz

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