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Stuart King

Review: A Profoundly Affectionate, Passionate Devotion to Someone (-noun)

a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) "Three couples. What might be. What once was. What could have been."

Meera Syal leads the cast of five players whose various paired exchanges will resonate strongly with audience members who are engaged in, or have been part of, a long-term relationship. Statements redolent of bitterness, yearning, irritation, sadness, regret and intensely intimate, passionate loving and caring, form the basis for most of the exchanges. They focus the couples' interactions, divergences of understanding, thoughtless unkindnesses and their irrational immediate, self-protecting deconstructions.

In point of fact, reflective consideration rarely has an opportunity to break through the rapid fire and combative nature of the dialogue delivery, but in a way this helps the piece realise its potential; by removing the "therapist in the room" the script really fires as a tool in the mouths of each protagonists.

The modernist, spartan playing area - which surrounds a field of uniform swivel top stools, on which the audience have freedom of movement to face their chosen protagonist during exchanges - is simple and effective, allowing few, if any, distractions from the sometimes cripplingly knowing and astute dialogue.

It is by presenting work such as this, that The Royal Court maintains its place at the cutting edge of new writing for theatre.