Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Duet for One' by Tom Kempinski

29 November 2012

As the publication of the Leveson report approached, for some reason I have been thinking a lot about Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s much-missed Channel 4 sitcom ‘Drop the Dead Donkey’. So it was lovely to have the chance to see on of its stars, Haydn Gwynne, at the Watford Palace Theatre last Saturday in ‘Duet for One’ by Tom Kempinski. The play focuses on a world-renowned violin soloist who has recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In a series of visits to a therapist (played by William Gaunt) she begins to come to terms with the end of her performing career and the major changes to her life. ‘Duet for One’ has clear parallels with the life of the ‘cellist Jacqueline du Pré whose career was cut short by multiple sclerosis. It also says a lot about the nature of psychotherapy and ‘talking cures’ and reminded me of 'Freud's Last Session' by Mark St Germain which we saw in New York last year (reviewed here in April 2011). ‘Duet for One’ is a moving and clever play, and the performances by Hadyn Gwynne and William Gaunt were excellent, but I felt that, dramatically, it needed a little more variety. It consists of a series of conversations between the same two people in the same room and, although there was certainly development of character and a journey of discovery and realisation, I felt it needed something more.

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