Thoughtful tale, beautifully told

slomon and marion

Janet Suzman as Marion and Khayalethu Anthony as Solomon

Solomon and Marion

Birmingham Rep Studio

*****

TAKE a good story, two assured actors and intelligent writing and you have the ingredients for a rather special play. Lara Foot's touching tale of a lonely soul finding a new and unexpected friendship is simply, but beautifully told.

Marion lives alone in a remote suburb of Cape Town. With her husband gone and her daughter settled in Australia, her sense of isolation is inevitable. Though family have left her life, her strength of character certainly hasn’t. She says what she thinks without bowing to political correctness - all the more pertinent in a country dominated by political division.

Self-pity is unthinkable in Marion's generation of stoicism and 'make do and mend' thinking.

Into this life comes another, in the form of Solomon - a young, local man with a willingness to listen. 

On the face of it, here are two people who are poles apart. Solomon's innocent zest for life versus Marions's declining appetite shouldn't bode well for any kind of lasting friendship. Life, thank goodness, doesn't always follow the expected path as they steadily grow closer.

Good plays, of course, have different layers and this is no exception. There is a reason for Solomon's visit which is exposed towards the end of the play but in a sense, though this serves to broaden the narrative that reason doesn't necessarily matter.  What shines through (and what an audience will take from it) is the story of a genuinely blossoming friendship between people from different sides of the tracks.

Of course, there is a bigger picture. It’s about the coming together of opposing cultures and looking beyond the colour of a person' a skin. It's about the importance of care and the need to move on from an outdated apartheid. On a much more personal level, it's about two human beings finding a common ground.

Janet Suzman, as Marion, is impeccable throughout. Every thought is conveyed with truth and sincerity. She takes her time - reacting and acting in equal measure, contrasting beautifully to the youthful energy of her co-star.  It’s a joy to watch an actor at the top of her game in a piece of work she is completely suited to.

Newcomer Khayalethu Anthony injects energy and charisma with every turn. His fast flowing speeches contrast perfectly with Marion's measured observations. An unlikely double act on the face of it, but a perfectly believable and, at times, touching one.

Patrick Curtis's set is suitably stark and provides the perfect neutral canvass for a beautifully woven story. Colour is not the priority here - a clever nod to a wider theme. To 01-11-14

Tom Roberts

22-10-14  

Contents page Lichfield Garrick Belgrade Hippodrome Grand Alex Malvern Rep RSC  Town Hall Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre