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Fifty Words – Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath

Writer: Michael Weller

Director: Laurence Boswell

Reviewer: Richard Loftus

[rating:5]

Fifty WordsA beautifully decorated and desirable home is the audiences first glimpse into the world of Michael Weller’s Fifty Words and his couple Adam (Richard Clothier) and Janine (Claire Price). The calm music which plays, while seats are taken, is as inviting as the home itself setting us, the audience, at ease as if we had been invited for an evening meal as opposed to an evening’s performance.

Simon Kenny’s set is littered with nuances and revelations. Most prominent is the juxtaposition of a child’s masterpieces, magnetized to the kitchen cupboards, directly opposite and in contrast to the modern artwork, which hangs in the dining room.

The Fifty Words that Michael Weller is referring to in his play title are the fifty words for love that “there should be.” More interesting than these anonyms of love are the words Weller uses as weapons in this heart-breaking play about a married couple whose lives have grown apart as their child has grown older. Banter, which at first you laugh along with, quickly becomes brutal and, with their child away from home for the first time innine years, each offensive articulation the pair deliver to one another strikes a painful blow.

It is captivating to see Janine’s dream of a perfect life crumble around her through the course of this one-act play. But what is so compelling about Weller’s extraordinary play is how Janine, in turn, confesses to allowing the perfect career to slip away in order to retain what she sees as the greater perfection – her husband. Most agonising of all is the revelation that his debt to her is their downfall.

Claire Price and Richard Clothier give tremendously moving performances – each capturing the audiences support at various alternating moments. Clothier’s ability to sway from sexual desire to surly childishness is matched by Price’s quick turns between frigidity and aggravator.

Fifty Words is an emotional rollercoaster, with twists and turns in abundance – a rollercoaster the audience is utterly in awe of but would willingly ride again!

Photo: Jane Hobson

Runs until 15th June 2013.

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