LIFE x 3
Lyttelton Theatre, London SE1
Opened 7 December, 2000

Yasmina Reza's latest play is a clever confection but probably not as profound as it believes itself to be.

Not unlike Noises Off (with which it has shared a stage in repertoire), Reza shows us three successive interpretations of the same events: in this case, professional middle-class couple Henry and Sonia are surprised by the arrival for dinner of Henry's astrophysicist boss Hubert and his opinionated wife Ines. The central events and personalities remain the same each time, but details and whole fields of characterisation change. Regular English Reza associates translator Christopher Hampton and director Matthew Warchus, and a cast led by a fine Mark Rylance and an even better Harriet Walter, treat the play with both thoughtfulness and panache.

At the core, though, it does not seem to be saying anything except that things can go differently almost at random. Reza is, as it were, showing us various elements of the halo of dark matter which surrounds an evening, just like the haloes which surround galaxies in Henry's field of research. It's a nice symbol (and makes a change from quantum mechanics!), but where one expects it to be developed, it just sits there recapitulating itself. A fine evening as far as it goes, but that is not far enough.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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