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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Yours For The Asking
Orange Tree Theatre     Autumn 2012

A pop journalist who hates his job is sent to interview a supermodel who hates hers. On that premise you could write a romantic comedy, a social satire, maybe even a serious drama.

Working under the censorship constraints of Franco's Spain in 1973, Ana Diosdado touched on all three while also expanding the characters' individual and shared unhappiness into stand-ins for a national cultural malaise. 

Actually, those larger metaphoric meanings, while clearly integral to the playwright's intention, are likely to seem digressions and diffusions to modern British audiences, with every pause to comment (directly or obliquely) on celebrity culture, consumerism and the evils of big business, capitalism and fascism interrupting what is most likely to interest us the portrait of two people in the depths of despair. 

Yours For The Asking may remind you of the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas, in which Nicholas Cage played an alcoholic deliberately drinking himself to death, in its honest and unjudgemental treatment of two people who have come very close to rock-bottom. 

She was the face of a perfume that proved carcinogenic and the backlash against the company turned into widespread personal hatred of her. He was a crusading political reporter now reduced to writing photo captions for fan magazines. They reach out for each other, but like two drowning people each desperate for the other to save them, they seem only able to push each other under. 

The play is not as unrelentingly bleak as I've made it sound, as there are several plot twists taking the characters and us places we didn't expect, and indeed the hope of redemption for one or both is there throughout. But it is the recognition that their pain is real and their despair a rational response to it that holds our interest and sympathy and carries the play. 

Steven Elder and Mia Austen earn the highest praise for taking us on this journey through both pain and hope, making us care about characters it would be too easy, in less sensitive hands, for us to dismiss or disdain. 

There is solid support from James Joyce, David Antrobus and Rebecca Pownall, while director Sam Walters triumphs once again, both in his mining of world theatre in search of unfamiliar gems and in his skilful and insightful guidance of the actors.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -  Yours For The Asking - Orange Tree Theatre 2012

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