Summary: outstanding – go.
A world weary Russian and an idealistic and earnest American locked in nuclear weapons negotiations provided a gripping night’s entertainment.
The script was clever. Nearly 2 hours of believable mind games and shadow boxing between the two protagonists as they struggle to engage with each other about the problems of negotiating nuclear weapons treaties. The general tone of the play was thoughtful and serious yet leavened by many good jokes and comedic moments. The execution of these were judged particularly well for the most part because although laugh out loud, they did not detract or feel incongruous with the general flow of a serious play. I say for the most part because there were two occasions where the levity did feel incongruous but this is nit-picking – overall, Felix Catto and Chris de Pury established complete and believable characters. They really were quite outstanding in this as they brought their characters to life.
The slight disappointment was the denouement. Given the genuine excellence of the production the denouement lacked either a dramatic conclusion or a satisfying resolution of tension. It was the latter that the play was striving for but the transition from tense professional jousting between rivals in the negotiations to a recognition of each other’s simple humanity in which they could simply enjoy a woodland vista together didn’t quite work. It was all rather abrupt. I think the script (rather than the acting itself) needed more psychological development of how such a transition could happen. Still, it didn’t matter much and perhaps only noticeable when juxtaposed the nearly flawless early part of the play.
The feeling the morning after is that this was a production that was done very well. Felix and Chris, take a bow.