A Warsaw Melody, Arcola Theatre 28 March


Arcola Studio 2 was about half-full for this opening night; but since the play only had two characters we were in no danger of being outnumbered.  The story is essentially Russian boy meets Polish girl and then they can’t marry after being silly and in love and then they meet a couple of times as the decades pass but there’s no going back.

The play is apparently very popular in Russia, and I think the reason must be it gives an opportunity for an actress like the young Alisa Freindlikh or that Lithuanian girl who isn’t Ingeborga Dapkunaite to show what she can do:  laugh, cry, speak Polish, sing, dance, fill the stage.  And Emily Tucker did pretty well at all of these, though I think Helya is supposed to be more of your Polish princess at the beginning.  I found her Polish more convincing than her Polish accent, but never mind.

Erm.  The Victor of Oliver King.  The thing went best when he was either asleep or absent.  He was far too wooden and far too English–Received Pronunciation English at that.  With the posh accent and the bomber jacket he just struck me as an RAF type from the off, which really wasn’t very helpful.  I think there’s supposed to be rather more to Victor than we ever saw here–charm for one thing and humour for another…

I really wanted to like this show and I’m sorry I couldn’t manage to.  Maybe someone will write in and explain how I’ve got it all wrong.  Failing that, you can see what I know about other Russian plays in London here.

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