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And No More Shall We Part

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Traverse Theatre
1-26 August

Something doesn't ring true about this Australian euthanasia play by Tom Holloway. The wonderful Irish actress Dearbhla Molloy looks far too bonny to be at death's door with cancer. How does she get the illegal drugs? And the time-jumping sequence of scenes creates confusion over her convulsions and final serenity.

Padding around in devoted attendance, with outbreaks of selfishness of the how-dare-you-do-this-to-me variety, Bill Paterson is lovely at conveying his amnesia, muttering at the evocation of a summer camping holiday he pretends to remember, determined to see things through.

The dark, slow part of the play is beautifully directed by James Macdonald, but Hannah Clark's revolving design is over-elaborate, turning the first, Beckettian half of the piece into a whirling, sententious jumble later on.

The play in this version derives from the laboratory process at Hampstead Theatre which presents certain plays to the public without the intervention of the critic or, as Macdonald says, "the swift tumbrel ride towards a press night."

This has certainly resulted in a show that doesn't care how long it takes to make its point, but in three years since the Melbourne premiere, you'd have thought the structure might have been sorted out by now.

Paterson's Don suddenly says that he had an affair twenty years ago. Molloy's Pam responds that she had one, too, in retaliation to his. And then they simply move on. It's one of those plays where you love the actors but are completely uninvolved, because unconvinced, by their characters.

- Michael Coveney


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