The Treatment (Almeida Theatre)

Posted: May 22, 2017 in Theatre


The weirdest thing about Martin Crimp’s surreal drama/comedy/thriller is that it all makes a sort of sense. There is a scent of David Lynch in the air at the Almeida, as Lindsey Turner’s sizzlng revival sets out to baffle and illuminate, taking us on a journey in which the blind lead the blind, both metaphorically and literally.

Jennifer and her husband Andrew are “facilitators”, bringing together people with ideas and the people who will turn them into reality. Anne has a story to tell relating to her husband Simon, John (Gary Beadle) and Clifford (Ian Gelder) are writers who can bring ideas to the stage/screen. Life meets art, reality makes inconvenient intrusions on superficial existences, tussles ensue. A bizarre meeting of absurdism and brutalism, Crimp’s play grips through crisp, efficient writing, sharp character detail and a foundation in truth.

Giles Cadle’s stark, minimalist sets establish the tone perfectly. A modern office becomes a swish apartment, a Japanese restaurant, a busy street and a New York subway station. Hordes of non-speaking extras pass by, oblivious to the dramas unfolding and images of motion appear during scene changes, Turner creating impressions of perpetual motion, parallel universes moving along side by side – the logical one and one that is more than slightly out of kilter.

Indira Varma is glib and controlling as Jennifer who holds the reins while Julien Ovenden’s smarmy Andrew is losing a battle with his own suppressed lecherous instincts. Aisling Loftus is passively vulnerable and borderline hysterical as Anne, in turns resisting and succumbing to Matthew Needham’s menacing psychopath Simon. All the performances are judged to perfection in a production that never fails to intrigue. Of course, much added fun comes from discussions over drinks afterward, trying to decide what it is all about. But there is nothing wrong with that as we are still trying to figure out Twin Peaks over 25 years on.

Performance date: 17 May 2017

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