You’re Always with Me at the Lost
In the heart of Stockwell lies a hidden gem. A beautifully lit, cosy yet cavernous space, the Lost Theatre is a welcome surprise to any theatregoer branching out from the West End not least for their latest offering, You’re Always with Me.
The title is deceptively simple; an English translation of a controversial 1964 play written by Azerbaijani laureate Ilyas Afandiyev, You’re Always with Me is ostensibly a story about love – lost, sought and unrequited. Set against a backdrop of Soviet-era Azerbaijan, Hesenzadé, an old widower, and Nergilé, a young school leaver, meet and find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another.
The unconventional relationship that develops between the pair is gripping and beautifully embodied by Doug Devaney (Hesenzadé) and Stephanie Harte (Nergilé), whose nuanced performances perfectly match the subtle intricacies of the piece.
On the surface, Afandiyev’s script is an intriguing exploration into whether love can conquer loneliness. Though the subject is approached with a profound honesty, there is a delicate playfulness throughout, with laughter coming from standout moments delivered by factory worker Badal (Karl Niklas) and Nergilé’s friend Surkik (Helen Coles).
Underneath the main plot we find an undercurrent of turmoil. Nergilé’s turbulent relationship with her detached mother, Nezaket – captivatingly rendered by Zara Plessard – who is trapped in a loveless marriage to a manipulative tyrant, is a thinly masked metaphor of Azerbaijan’s struggle to be rid of Soviet rule. But as with every element of this play, nothing is straightforward; Nezaket is both victim and culprit, a woman who like Hesenzadé and Nergilé, suffers from an inescapable loneliness.
Director Filiz Ozcan’s production is most impressive in its simple yet effective storytelling. Slick staging and poetic use of lighting and music create a fluidity to the piece, which plays like a song, one whose hopeful tune lingers long after the house lights have gone up.
You’re Always with Me is on at the Lost Theatre from 12th September until 27th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.