Bush Theatre Summer 2019
Kenny Emson's play is an
experiment in escape from reality whose conclusion is that the outside
world and our connections to it will sooner or later re-assert themselves.
Daniel and Nadia, each
married to another and with children, rent a flat for joyous once-a-week
sexual assignations, the one cardinal rule of their affair being that no
mention or thought of the rest of their lives be allowed to intrude.
But over a period of three
years outside events and a sort of creeping domesticity threaten to turn
this idyll into an alternative marriage resembling rather than denying
their other-six-days lives.
Rust wears its sources
lightly, but the fingerprints of Harold Pinter can be seen on it, notably
from Betrayal in the picture of the flat and the inescapable impulses
toward domesticity, but also from The Lover with its exploration of the
eroticism of alternative personalities.
And those with long memories
of American rom-coms will recall Bernard Slade's Same Time Next Year,
about a couple's annual adulterous reunions.
Emson's play is much closer
in tone to Slade's than Pinter's. Director Eleanor Rhode keeps things
light through most of its 75-minute length, with the conclusion more
rueful than tragic.
Claire Lams brings a perky
young-Felicity-Kendal sexiness to Nadia in the happy scenes and touching
fragility to the darker moments. The only points that don't quite ring
true come when she turns out to be the harder-edged and stronger of the
Jon Foster captures Daniel's
recurring feeling of being off-balance as thoughts and emotions he's not
meant to be having in this setting keep intruding.
Another writer with other intentions might have explored the emotional and psychological implications of this story more fully. But just as designer Max Johns's set made up of a pile of cushions suggests a children's playroom, Kenny Emson's play is more interested in enjoying the fun while it lasts.
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Review - Rust - Bush Theatre 2019