Strange Interlude at the Lyttelton
While Luhrmann’s Gatsby is storming cinemas with its exuberant revival of the 20s, the Lyttelton Theatre gives its personal rendition of the same decade, considering the other side of it all. Strange Interlude is a play written by Eugene O’Neill in 1928 which explores controversial themes such as mental illness, adultery and abortion at a time when the economic boom made believe that everything was easily attainable, and many restraints were loosened or bypassed.
In reality, a global crisis was on its way. There are always two sides of a coin: American culture was being shaped by great changes, but what was being left behind? And what inconvenient troubles were concealed?
Strange Interlude tells the story of Nina (well played by Anne-Marie Duff), a young woman who goes through the journey of life having to make difficult decisions because she is torn in two by these changes. We first see her suffering the consequences of others’ choices, of fate perhaps, and gradually strengthening to stand up for herself, but having to face torturous dilemmas nonetheless. On the one hand, Nina finds courage to take her freedom; on the other, she discovers she must accept responsibility – she can shatter morals and redefine values but it all comes with a price.
Nina makes her own choices but it’s no bed of roses. We see a woman who is independent and capable, yet fragile and submissive at times; a cynical, careless woman struggling with her personal beliefs in her pursuit of happiness. We see love in different guises, but in the end love is all we see the characters fighting for, in the shadows or at the forefront – it’s always there.
Strange Interlude’s production is impressive. The scenery is colossal yet intimate and gives the feeling that even the audience is encompassed in it. Lights and sounds are brilliantly orchestrated to create the perfect atmosphere, as if the scene were actually taking place in real life. The actors give staggering performances, ably balancing heart-breaking emotions and riotous laughter, their mimicry convincingly authentic. A particular mention goes to Charles Edwards, in the part of Charlie Marsden, who portrays his character with depth and was most impressive throughout.
Grab your tickets before they’re all gone!
Strange Interlude is on at the Lyttelton Theatre until 12th August 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch interviews with the company of Strange Interlude here: