Against Bob Crowley's wonderful dilapidated-Parisian-boho set, we see a day in the life of Isadora Duncan circa 1923: the mundanities of hustling money and the supposedly more profound difficulties of communication that are author Martin Sherman's real preoccupations here – how to cut across language (neither Duncan nor her Russian poet husband can speak the other's language) or transcend it entirely as with her dancing, which no-one can truly describe though they try with irksome frequency.
Frances de la Tour's laconic interpreter remonstrates with Isadora: "You are an artist, you have dramas all the time... I just have life." But the play never gets to grips with its chosen issues, and is seldom more than facilely dramatic while circumventing them, culminating in a ludicrously polyglot dinner party. Its appearance in the West End is a mystery, and Vanessa Redgrave's involvement doubly so: she's never called upon to exercise herself in a role that's primarily gush of one sort or another. There's really no lasting message, beyond "Don't drive fast in an open-topped car while wearing a long scarf".
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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