Beautiful storytelling hides a complex tale of desire in The Lover (3 stars)

Beautiful storytelling hides a complex tale of desire in The Lover

credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

An elegant production but translation from memoir to the stage does not always find a theatricality in the script

This adaptation of Marguerite Duras' The Lover is a collaboration between director Jemima Levick and choreographer Fleur Darkin, and the juxtaposition of dance and storytelling seems to divide their responsibilities clearly. The thrust of the narrative is presented as a spoken word monologue – with occasional dialogues – while the dance provides illustrations of the incidents, especially the more sensual memories of the teenage Duras and her older lover.

There's a sheen of beauty and elegance across the production, from the allusive scenography to the choreography of lovers entwined, but the storytelling is more direct: moving between pre-recorded and live sequences, it wraps the affair in nostalgic and exoticism. There are moments of intensity – when the lover finally speaks for himself, instead of being described by the narrator, or when a conversation about sexual desire emerges from speakers within the auditorium. However, the languid atmosphere is almost alienating; Duras' passion feels removed and the serious issues the play raises – not least Duras' age at the time of the affair – are addressed only slightly.

If the atmosphere is largely evocative and sensual, the descriptions of exotic detail are spoken rather than performed: the script and the bodies of the performers are distanced, telling the same story but in parallel rather than together. The narrative is clear, only the focus is vague: the translation from memoir to the stage does not always find a theatricality in the script: the spoken word and the movement are not happily integrated.

The Lover

This collaboration with Stellar Quines and Scottish Dance Theatre brings an exotic tale of remembered passion to new life in an original stage adaptation by director Jemima Levick and choreographer Fleur Darkin.

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