Pros: Excellent performances by all five cast members.
Cons: Very uncomfortable seats, so much so that it was starting to detract from the enjoyment of the play during the last ten minutes.
On entering and choosing a seat (more about the seats later) we see the cast already in place on a raised performance area around three sides of the room. They are strolling around drawing with chalk on the bright green walls. Each character draws a different shape, and they sometimes go over the same lines or draw through another person’s outlines.
The dialogue starts and we are plunged into conversations and arguments between the first couple, A (Lashana Lynch) and B (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr). They have the lion’s share of the eighty minutes, and then — just as you may start to wonder why the other three people are there — we move to the second couple (Meera Syal and Gary Beadle), and finally the third couple (Beadle and Shvorne Marks).
Beautifully written in flowing, expressive (but everyday) language, we are soon immersed in the relationships. Although stilted at first, a natural rhythm between the voices settles in, encompassing moments of silence and, later, characters talking over each other. Things are said, not said, half said, hinted at; always with the expectation that the other person in the relationship will know exactly what is meant. It is humorous and moving, exploring the importance of things such as birth, illness, death, and the location of the TV remote control. I suspect that anyone who has been in a relationship will recognise something from at least one of the couples here, and possibly also take away some food for thought. Unobtrusive music and lighting add to the mood and enhance the simplicity of the set and costume.
The small space provides an intimate atmosphere and, with the actors being above eye level, it feels as though we are encroaching upon private events we are not supposed to witness — a bit like a child may feel in the midst of adults who are discussing ‘grown-up’ things. However, any feeling of discomfort resulting from being drawn in to the highly personal moments being enacted is nothing compared to the seats.
Audience members are perched on bar stools which can swivel around to follow whichever cast member they choose. The stools are very, very uncomfortable — so much so that it was distracting for the last ten or fifteen minutes. There was a lot of fidgeting going on. If you have any kind of back problem I recommend you think long and hard before booking.
This excellent piece was written and directed by debbie tucker green [sic]. All five actors also deserve acknowledgement. It helps that Gershwyn Eustache Jnr has the kind of voice you can sit and listen to for hours — just not on those seats.
Director and Author: debbie tucker green
Box Office: 0207 565 5000
Booking Link: https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/aprofoundly/
Booking Until: Saturday 1 April 2017