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Theatre Review: The Lover ***

Michael Cox reviews a 'nice' production that doesn't linger in the mind for long.

In these current times of #MeToo and living in a post Weinstein/Spacey era, the idea of a sympathetic production centred on a sexual affair between a 15-year-old girl and a twenty-something man might not seem like the best of plans. Add to the fire the fact it’s set in 1920s Indochina, that the ‘lovers’ are both colonials from different cultures—she’s European and he’s Chinese—and that the promotion ‘promises’ sensual delights with warnings of nudity and you have what might be a powder keg of a production.

Based on an autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, the production has a lot of talent behind it: the Lyceum, Stellar Quines and Scottish Dance Theatre are all producers, and each company’s artistic director is heavily involved. It also has a great design team and five well-established performers, all of whom seem to be giving this production their all.

So why, then, is the end result best described by one mere word: nice?

It’s nice to look at. There are nice moments of character, and the scenes of lovemaking—told through movement—lack heat or passion but are instead…nice. Even the production’s biggest concept, to mostly rely on pre-recorded dialogue, is at best a nice idea that works about as much as it doesn’t.

There is only one moment in the whole production that everything—performance, design and direction—comes together to create a potent moment of wonderful theatricality: the final scene. It just about justifies the decisions taken in staging the previous 80 minutes. However, for a production about memory, The Lover barely lingers in the mind.

The Lover performs at the Royal Lyceum until February 3rd.

Tags: theatre dance

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