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You Left Me in the Dark
Published on Tuesday, 21 August 2012
2

2 stars

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (venue website)
Theatre
13-18, 20-25 Aug, 4:05pm-4:55pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

You Left Me In The Dark takes the mis-matched lovers from Chekhov’s The Seagull, but sets their story against the backdrop of the CND movement. Set after Constantin’s death, a distraught Masha recounts the tale from her point of view.

The young cast perform with commitment and genuine feeling, meaning the story of devastating unrequited love is affecting and heartfelt. The script, however, cannot match Chekhov’s – and it seems an odd choice to retell The Seagull, and draw unflattering comparisons to the original, when the universal tale of misplaced love could have easily have stood up in its own right. The CND setting is puzzling, never seeming inherent to the plot, rather feeling shouldered in on top of the concept.

Music is very much a feature of the piece, which uses songs from Florence And The Machine to express the inner thoughts of characters at various key points. Laura Lexx sings ably, but the format of the songs, with many repeated choruses, doesn’t lend itself particularly well to dramatic works – particularly when unaccompanied. Director Jessica Cheetham may wish to look at trimming the songs to make their use more effective. 

Designer Natassia Green has created some atmospheric visual moments with the use of a canvas screen; music is played in silhouette, and characters reach for each other, but find only their own shadow. These moments are the most successful, and stand in contrast to the script, which contains a number of repeated lines that should be slimmed down in order to let them land.

You Left Me In The Dark has some nice sequences, but ultimately cannot overcome the confusion at the heart of its concept. Some of the moments are well executed. But with such disparate elements failing to justify themselves, the show never finds the necessary coherence to sustain itself.

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