ACTS OF DECEIT (BETWEEN STRANGERS IN A ROOM)
By Dirty Pretty Theatre.
Before I forget: this is a really very rather outstanding piece playing at the Carlton Courthouse. It's a play, a play play, so don't expect any radical experiments with form or anything. But as a play it's just superb and does well what straight-up narrative theatre does best.
It's adapted from a 50s novel by James Baldwin, although Gary Abrahams has felt free to take great liberties with the source material. This is for the best, as he's really distilled the core themes of the book while injecting certain new elements that make it fresh and contemporary.
The story sounds pretty familiar on paper: a guy engaged to be married has a torrid affair with a barman (in Paris of all places) and then watches his whole life crumble as a result. Abrahams really gets into the emotional complexities of this scenario, though: each character is so much more than just a narrative function, and is rendered in beautifully contradictory detail. This is Abrahams first show as director and writer/adapter (I've seen him perform as an actor plenty of times, though) - he's most definitely worth following for his dramaturgical talents, if this one's anything to go by.
The design of the piece is lovely, with a soft chiaroscuro light that evokes an old sepia photograph and an unusually-arranged set that's quite effective. The performances, too, are really top notch, with special mention going to Terry Yeboah. Yeboah has always had promise but I've never seen him hit his stride the way he does here, with several later scenes that just tear you up.
Finishes this Sunday at the Carlton Courthouse, so get a move on.