19 February 2015

The Separation at Theatre503 was funny, touching and ultimately sad

My plan to see everything that I can at Theatre503 has never let me down yet, or even come remotely close, and The Separation was another triumph.

On first looks this was "just" a domestic story about a bad separation set against the introduction of divorce laws into Catholic Ireland. That alone would not have been enough to get me there but the reputation of Theatre503 was.

I managed to be in Kings Place that day which made for a nice journey to the theatre after work, though my short-cut across part of Clapham Common was somewhat muddier than I had anticipated. On the other hand, the walk up from Clapham South station was a good distance and plenty of steps to add to my daily count.

I went to the pub beneath the theatre, the Latchmere, first for some food and a beer. Having struggled to find a sensible veggie option there before I was pleasantly surprised this time. Everything was well set for the main event.

The upstairs waiting area was buzzing, always a good sign, and some careful positioning and staying alert got me a central front row seat. I did not even mind the couple that pushed in to the queue to get central front row seats before me. Well, not too much. Queueing at Theatre503 generally works well and I have no complaints about how it works.

The simple set was a living room and that is where all the action took place.

We first met two work colleagues, an older man and a younger woman, who had come back to his place after a night out. We soon learned that they had had a tryst previously at a works Christmas Party. We also learned that he was married but separated.

They talked about the sorts of things that people getting to know each other a little better talk about, things like his new job and his desire for her to accept a job working with him.

All was going reasonably well until his wife turned up. She was looking for their daughter who had gone missing. The lady left and the married couple talked about their daughter and their responsibilities towards her with the wife accusing the husband of not seeing enough of her, which he admitted.

The wife left and the daughter tuned up soon after which took the conversations in yet another direction.

And that was the point of the play. Through these various conversations, which were at times touching, humorous and aggressive, we learned a lot more about the relationships and the expectations of the society that they lived in. It was gripping edge-of-the-seat stuff.

Then we learned why the marriage had fallen apart as the story took a dark turn. Story wise it was a perfectly logical and natural ending though also a sad one.

There were just the four characters and all were acted with conviction and I was particularly impressed with Roxanna Nic Liam as the daughter because of her young age and the way that she handled the range of emotions required of the role.

The Separation was very much the sort of play that I have become used to seeing at Theatre503 and long may that continue.

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