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Review: Duet for One Newcastle Peoples Theatre
When Music is a Kind of Heaven
Duet for One
Newcastle Peoples Theatre
Until Saturday 31 May 2014
Dr Alfred Feldman(Steve Robertson)
Photo: Paula Smart
The Peoples Theatre have not been known from shying away from controversial texts or challenging productions. With Duet For One they have created a piece of theatre that tests both of the performers and demand full commitment from its audience.Excellent theatre should provoke and stimulate; this show does so and it does it well.
Stephanie Abrahams (Anna Dobson) Photo: Paula Smart
Tom Kempinski’s play is set in the consulting room of Dr Feldmann, a charming psychiatrist played very assertively by Steve Robertson.His latest client is the very successful violinist Stephanie Abrahams who has recently had to stop performing through her debilitatingcondition multiple sclerosis. Portraying the musicians many complex emotions is the outstanding Anna Dobson.
Abraham’s arrives in her wheelchair and describes how embarrassing it is to fall over in the High Street. We are plunged into a rollercoaster of emotions: rage, arrogance, anger, upset, depression, irritation and then rage again. The conversation is never dull as the blunt replies to Dr Feldmann’s enquiries reveal the gradual break-down of someone’s inner set of non-negotiables.The troubles of a childhood are contrasted with the rewards of an ideal partnership which music had brought together and kept together.Kay Worswick’s direction has permitted some long pauses in which the audience wonders who will break the silence. They are great at building tension without allowing the show to drag. In fact the two hours fly by.
The set designed by Stuart Taylor and Edward Wainwright, with shelves featuring a large collection of classical vinyl records, biographies of Tony Benn and reference books such as 1001 records to hear before you die, surrounds the action. This leaves a very intimate performance space that draws the audience in.
This is a formidable production of which the cast and crew should be suitably proud. Good theatre should make you think. Brilliant theatre also makes you glad to be alive.