The thing I like when going to watch something is not knowing anything about it. I don’t like trailers, I don’t like synopses, I don’t like reviews. Partly because I hate spoilers and the minute I get clues it’s like I’m on edge until I spot them but mostly because the element of expectation is taken away. I’m judgemental and I expect quality all the time, so best for me not to have any expectations.
So with nothing in mind, I went to the Old Red Lion in Islington to watch Venus/Mars a play Directed by Rikki Henry, a Jerwood director at the Young Vic. Written by newcomer Patrice Etienne and produced by Gemma Lloyd. With a cast of three set in the dark intimate setting of the pub theatre Samantha Pearl played Michelle, Adrian Decosta played Daniel and Jill Cardo who I assume was the conscience of Michelle and Daniel, Venus/Mars takes you on the rollercoaster of emotions that is being in a new then long-term relationship.
Finding a new way to tell an old tale is often difficult but under the direction of Rikki Henry, and the words of Patrice Etienne, Samantha and Adrian expertly brought to life Michelle and Daniel’s journey. Cleverly voicing the thoughts of the lovers, along with speaking their lines whilst providing the voices of their friends and families. It was a lot to take in and you kinda had to concentrate. But with the well-rehearsed delivery, it wasn’t too hard to follow.
The other point to this is that Venus/Mars is engaging. Evoking laughter from the audience along with empathy, groans of agreeable embarrassment – yes I’ve that done to my partner too, the pangs of regret, and the resigned fact that no matter what, to get the ‘perfect’ relationship everyone goes through the bumps and scrapes of the war that is trying to squash your partner into your vision of ideal shape. As they say, love is indeed a battlefield.
To critique the play, I can only say, the theatre space was a tad warm and I initially pondered whether Jill Cardo’s role was needed. But the few enhancements she added especially during the specifically poignant moments near the end, I soon changed my mind.
Overall this is a fantastic little glimpse into a world we all recognise. I’d like to go and see it again, this time with my partner…let Michelle and Daniel explain that what’s happening with us is totally normal.
Venus/Mars runs until 15th June 2013 @ The Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington CLICK HERE TO BOOK