Diversifications – Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Reviewer: Jamie Barnes

Writer: Natalie Ekberg

Director: Jess Barton

Sweet and sensitive, Diversifications is an intimate view of love, loss, and forgiveness in relationships. Emotion takes center-stage in this character-led piece, addressing sensitive subjects with care and understanding, and exploring what life means to different people in a poignant and expressive way.

Diversifications tells the story of three women, who meet while waiting for the results of their genetic tests, but all decide to leave without receiving their results. The focus switches between the women and their partners, who have met a couple of years later, to discuss the outcome of the chance meeting in the clinic. The show delicately deals with topics of miscarrige, separation, illness, and grief through the couples and their relationships, and also through the bonds between the group of women and the group of men.

Each couple demonstrates a variety of traits and dominant elements within their relationships, and allows the audience to see people at different points in their relationship sharing a common experience. Each couple offers up a unique perspective on the ideas of marriage, parenthood, and gender roles, which plays to the strengths of the piece, and cements the immensely important role of character as a storytelling device.

Each character is incredibly detailed, and the cast do the intensity and drama of the show justice in their portrayal of the complex nature of humanity. Nick Morrison-Baker marks a sophisticated and moving stage debut in his role as Alan, paired alongside Janine Woods as his wife, Samantha. Together, the two lead the heart of the story through the trials and tribulations of their marriage, and ultimately deliver the final message of forgiveness in a subtle and believable resolution. Kaara Benstead delivers a funny, yet profound, performance of motherhood and individuality as Corinna, which sees the show through both the light-hearted and more emotional aspects, and carries the tone of the piece through her interactions with the other characters.

Jess Barton’s staging, along with set design by Constance Villemot, and lighting design by Beth Bains, creates a rich and characteristic atmosphere that steps between the worlds of the characters, allowing the audience to experience the relationships between the women, the men, the characters as couples, and the internal conflicts that they each come to terms with. Diversifications demonstrates the intensity and importance of design as a dramatic device in a performance heavy show.

Despite the overall subtlety of the play, there are areas that could be improved within the writing, including some jarring and out of place fourth-wall breaks, and monologues that are disorientating within the context of the piece. Unfortunately these elements affect the focus and believability of the characters and their struggles, at times taking away from the narrative by relaying the thoughts and feelings through simple dialogue that abandons the complexity of human emotion.

Runs until 2 July 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Sensitive and Sweet

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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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