Belvedere – Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Ana-Maria Bamberger

Director: Lydia Parker

Famous writer Anton has checked himself into the Belvedere clinic in order to understand his hallucinations and stop them from further impacting his life. Being shut away from the outside world, he is able to concentrate on finishing his writing and decoding his thoughts with psychiatrist Dr. Defoe, but when a visitor from his past shows up out of the blue he’s forced to confront the depths of his mind and understand the truth between reality vs illusion.

Anton, played by the impeccable Dan March, is wonderfully well layered. He is extremely intelligent, but frustratingly trapped within the confines of his own mind, lines blurred between imagination and reality. March captures every aspect of the persona perfectly, erratic yet docile, confused yet sharp, self-assured yet insecure. His talent draws in the audience and dominates the stage in every interaction.

Stephanie played by Tracey Ann Wood, and Dr. Defoe played by Stefan Menaul are great counterparts to March, with both drawing out different sides within his character’s personality. The quick-witted rapport between Menaul and March provides some lighter, comedic scenes, while the gentle, wistful approach by Wood evokes the emotion. Between the three of them all bases are covered.

Writer Ana-Maria Bamberger carefully breaches the topic of mental health, giving an insight into a creatively fragile mind. She presents Anton as an intriguing character, making the audience second guess the reality as much as he does as a patient. As the narrative progresses the audience are left guessing as to where the truth really lies, with no concrete certainty, due to the brilliant addition of mirroring within the storyline.

Director Lydia Parker cleverly uses the space to depict the surrealism and confusion throughout, subtly morphing realism with memory. It’s a great play that really explores the complexities of mental health, the mind and our own depictions of the truth.

Runs until 13 November 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Reality vs Illusion

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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