In a small, book-framed Parisian apartment, obsession over words meets obsession over personality. Pierre, a Congolese refugee, is meeting English tutor Celia for their usual lesson. Over five short parts, the relationship between the teacher and the taught will dissolve and reverse, teasing out the unspoken subtexts which pervade their relationship by close analysis of the double meanings of the English language.
As Celia, Marianne Oldham is simply enthralling, walking a fractured line between the grand inquisitor and the privately condemned. Her control of the tormented persona breaks quite spectacularly, revealing, in one of the most commanding performances of the year, an uneasy vulnerability in the unseen depths of this complex character.
South African actor Nat Ramabulana, too, proves world-class as benign stalker Pierre. The sudden galvanizing of his character from uncertain speaker to unfaltering lover is authoritative and rich, forging a realistic subtlety in this quasi-Freudian relationship and scorching bright yellow in its final scenes.
This excellent play is a blaze of that summer Fringe heat in the damp days of autumn.