Ten years after the events of the legendary twelfth-century love story, Abelard journeys to the makeshift convent now run by Sister Heloise. She has never truly submitted to her religious vows but continued to nurture her feelings for him, and is shocked by his complete devotion to God and disgust for their former fleshly joys. But, as Abelard himself points out, such otherworldliness may well have been engendered by his castration all those years ago.
Hugh Carr's depiction of their ultimate reconciliation observes the dramatic unities and necessarily relies on words rather than action; Karen Ford and Bernard Brown work assiduously to supply the nuances of expression and gesture that give the piece life, and the ambiguity of Heloise's final repentance is especially finely underplayed. For those of us who came in late, as it were, Carr sketches in the prior events deftly and unobtrusively, but never quite shakes off the feeling that this sequel is of interest only by virtue of what has gone before.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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