duet pair

Duet For One

Malvern Theatres


As a portrayal of depression and loss in its various phases, Duet For One makes for some uneasy viewing.

The play, written by Tom Kempinski, portrays the spirited and ever evolving encounters between a psychiatrist and his patient - a great violinist who has become incapacitated by multiple sclerosis.

It’s a two-hander, so the calibre of the performances is everything. Thankfully the leads are excellent, particularly Belinda Lang as the patient. 

She stepped in to replace Jemma Redgrave soon after the tour was announced and is convincing in portraying her character’s many changeable moods.

There’s a range from animated optimism on drugs to melancholy, disinterested and, the best of them all, foul-mouthed anger.

It’s a well-tuned performance from an actress with a lengthy theatre repertoire despite being more known for TV roles such as Bill in 2point4Children and Agatha Troy in The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries.

Opposite her, playing the German psychiatrist is esteemed stage, film and television actor Oliver Cotton. He maintains a good German accent throughout and although his role is less wordy than Lang’s, his presence is no less prominent.

It is a heavy, emotional and often depressing piece of theatre. Yet despite the angst topics, there’s splashes of humour too in the taught relationship.

There’s a touch of quality to the production including a beautifully crafted and detailed set of the psychiatrist’s home.

Interestingly, there’s a note in the programme from the writer warning audiences of the “fake news” that this play is based on cellist Jacqueline du Pre. Kempinski adds that the play is in fact a metaphor for his life and his “own badly damaged personality including depression, rage and anxiety”.

Maybe not happy viewing, but it is distinctive with two excellent above par performances. To 11-11-17

Alison Brinkworth


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