Review: The Cordelia Dream

By CarolynB Last edited 184 months ago
Review: The Cordelia Dream

2 Michelle Gomez David Hargreaves in The Cordelia Dream RSC by Simon Annand.JPG
Photo by Simon Annand
Drawing on the antagonism between authorship, reputation and plagiarism, Marina Carr's reworking of King Lear, The Cordelia Dream, is a clever, self-referential analysis of our human desire to create immortality through art - at whatever personal cost. The Royal Shakespeare Company commissioned Carr to write the piece, which completes the RSC's season at Wilton's Music Hall. It is a marvellous counterpoint to The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes where the young outstrip their elders with an acerbic cruelty befitting their inexperience. Here, however, the brutality of youthful insolence is tempered by the damage the old and foolish can inflict in return.

It's quite tricky to describe the play without giving the game away, but it centres on an elderly composer attempting to capture inspiration, and fulfil his early promise, by isolating himself from his personal relationships. His secluded existence is disrupted by a younger, female visitor seeking reconciliation but who instead brings with her the clanging dissonance of recriminations and regret. The guilt-infused defensiveness of both characters as they bait each other catalyses the physically and psychologically devastating fallout addressed in the second half of the play. It is not cheerful stuff, but the two leads, Michelle Gomez and David Hargreaves, deftly and tenderly interpret it.

Conor Lineham's haunting score is brought to life in the evocative surroundings of Wilton's, the music introducing the second act being a particular spine-tingling highlight. I know that us Londonist folk love to preach the virtues of Wilton's Music Hall, but the decrepit intimacy of the space - you will often catch the delicious scent of Hargreave's cigar, for instance - combined with Giles Cadle's staging powerfully enhances the intensifying, smothering claustrophobia of the boxed-in world the characters inhabit. In a nutshell, this production is an absolute treat, catch it before it finishes its run on 10th January.

The Cordelia Dream, until Saturday 10th January, Wilton's Music Hall, Graces Alley off Ensign Street, E1, tickets are £20 each, £15 for the over 60s.

Last Updated 30 December 2008