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You and Me, Blue Elephant Theatre

Roger Simeon
Directed by Bryony Shanahan

Pros: Demonstrates character acting at its best. Chameleon-like performances by Patricia Rodriguez and Mercè Ribot take you on an unpredictable and whacky ride through the love and hate of sisterhood.

Cons: This is a very specific kind of theatre – esoteric, philosophic and abstract. It may prove frustrating for those preferring linear plot lines and story structure.

Our Verdict: Refreshingly different, this is a show that plucks us out of traditional storytelling and hurls us into real world chaos and the ups and downs of human and familial relationships.

Credit: Pau Ros

I would be hard pressed to describe the plot of this relatively new piece. Roger Simeon has translated his original Spanish script about a husband and wife into an English version, and director Bryony Shanahan has adapted it to being about two sisters. Rather than providing us with a beginning, middle and end, the play instead plops us right into the middle of a relationship between two elderly sisters who need, love, loath and respect each other, and who wish the other never existed. It’s an intricate, moving, humourous, and at times unsettling relationship to witness which can be as realistic as it is bizarre to watch unfold.

At its core however, the show follows two old ladies, sisters, who have lived and existed together all their lives and who each obviously have their own roles. One, performed by Patricia Rodriguez, appears to be the caregiver and money maker and the other, acted by Mercè Ribot seems to rely on her sister and perhaps suffers from an undisclosed ailment or mild personality disorder, or sadly, just old age.

After this however, there is no rhyme or reason to the story, just two old ladies living their lives, getting on each other’s nerves, annoying each other and appeasing each other just as siblings would do as children. However the annoying each other occasionally unfurls into horrific, adult insult hurling and the appeasing each other presents itself in random musical outbursts of Spanish ditties.

A moving sisterly bond is created by the two actors who, without a glimpse of caricature, quite impressively create incredibly believable old women full of personality, vigor and life, despite being significantly younger themselves. They are a joy to watch on stage, as they easily slide from mundane and repetitive jabber about their day, to a full-on physical dramatisation of the reasons not to die, to an incredible song and dance routine that seems to erupt from no where.

While it was fun to be a fly on the wall witness to the zaniness, volatility and dependability of this particular human relationship, this is not one for those who require a linear and logical story to follow.

Though a very tight and well choreographed production that has been beautifully directed by Bryony Shanahan, there were moments that were over-powered by technical difficulties (the underpinning score was occasionally too loud) that, once adjusted, will nicely compliment those particular elements of the piece.

Perhaps the best way to (hopefully) compliment and contextualise this very fine production is to compare it to Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett – same feel and esoteric nature with less pauses, only female characters and a Spanish flavour to boot!

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

You and Me runs at the Blue Elephant Theatre until 27th April 2013.
Box Office: 020 7701 0100 or book online at http://www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk/you-and-me

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