THEATRE REVIEW: Elegy starring Zoe Wanamaker, Barbara Flynn & Nina Sosanya


WHERE: Donmar Warehouse

WHEN: 29/4, runs to 18/6

At just 75 minutes long Elegy feels like the obvious follow-up to author Nick Payne’s biggest hit Constellations, an exploration of free will and quantum physics, which opened on Broadway over a year ago starring Jake Gyllenhaal after a West End transfer.

  • Read on for which celebrity was in the audience for our performance

We’ve seen some terrific all-female casts this year (we’re thinking The Maids and Escaped Alone in particular) and Barbara Flynn (who we last saw imperious in High Society at the Old Vic) and Zoe Wanamaker (as a married couple facing up to a life-threatening disease) and doctor Nina Sosanya here are just as good.

Wanamaker’s character is developing an Alzheimer’s-type disease but could have lifesaving surgery which would wipe out her memories of the last quarter of a century, leaving her with no thoughts for her wife. But what kind of life would that be for either of them?

We watch in reverse as they deal with the consequences of their decision and then see how each scene was arrived at.

Payne’s script is written both conversationally and beautifully (although the scientist in our party was unhappy at the way their subject was treated versus other themes such as religion, faith and love) and it’s an unusual pleasure to see a one-act play without interval and to be home by 9.30pm.

From our seats at the front of the circle we can see BBC newsreader Jane Hill with a female friend in the third row of the stalls, perhaps indicative of the type of crowd this could be expected to attract.

Like Splendour at the Donmar last year, this is an all-female cast which is enhancing the material it is performing no end. A short, sharp, slap-in-the-face of a play which perhaps deserves to linger longer in the memory than its length would suggest.

  • Picture by Johan Persson via Facebook courtesy Donmar. Tickets here.
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham

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