Bush Theatre Summer 2019
Kenny Emson's play is
an experiment in escape from reality whose conclusion is that the
outside world and our connections to it will sooner or later
Daniel and Nadia, each
married to another and
with children, rent a flat for joyous once-a-week sexual
assignations, the one cardinal rule of their affair being that no
mention or thought of the rest of their lives be allowed to intrude.
But over a period of
three years outside events and a sort of
creeping domesticity threaten to turn this idyll into an alternative
marriage resembling rather than denying their other-six-days lives.
Rust wears its sources
lightly, but the fingerprints of Harold Pinter
can be seen on it, notably from Betrayal in the picture of the flat
and the inescapable impulses toward domesticity, but also from The
Lover with its exploration of the eroticism of alternative
And those with long
memories of American rom-coms will
recall Bernard Slade's Same Time Next Year, about a couple's annual
Emson's play is much
closer in tone to Slade's
than Pinter's. Director Eleanor Rhode keeps things light through most
of its 75-minute length, with the conclusion more rueful than tragic.
Claire Lams brings a
perky young-Felicity-Kendal sexiness to Nadia in
the happy scenes and touching fragility to the darker moments. The
only points that don't quite ring true come when she turns out to be
the harder-edged and stronger of the couple.
Jon Foster captures
Daniel's recurring feeling of being off-balance as thoughts and
emotions he's not meant to be having in this setting keep intruding.
Another writer with other intentions might have explored the emotional and psychological implications of this story more fully. But just as designer Max Johns's set made up of a pile of cushions suggests a children's playroom, Kenny Emson's play is more interested in enjoying the fun while it lasts.
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Review - Rust - Bush Theatre 2019