‘I (don’t) want to be loved’: The Treatment @ Almeida Theatre

Anne is selling herself to the movie industry – her life, that is. Jen and Andrew (I kept wondering why there were two characters were named Anne and Andrew), keen New York movie producers, are lapping up her bizarre tale of being regularly tied up and gagged by her husband when he left the house. Jen (a brilliant Indira Varma) is hilariously businesslike, and completely unsympathetic, about Anne’s tale. Her relentlessness lends brightness, if not warmth, to every scene. Her husband Andrew (a cool and composed Julian Ovenden) is a more enigmatic character. The way they calmly accept Anne’s disturbing and unusual past is the first thing that discomfits the audience.

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What follows is an absurd tale featuring a wonderful cast of characters including a failing playwright, a blind taxi driver and Anne’s Stanley Kowalski-esque husband Simon. The theme of blindness is present throughout the play, and though many have called it a satire on the movie industry, I feel its message goes deeper than that. I was fascinated, but left the theatre wondering what it all meant. And that can sometimes be a good thing.

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Writer Martin Crimp’s gripping dialogue, framed by an utterly stylish, very Almeida-y production, with an excellent performance by Aisling Loftus in the central role, made for a great evening. If only the scene changes hadn’t necessitated constant interruptions to the story by the lowering of a black curtain, it would have been perfect.

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The Treatment is playing at the Almeida Theatre until 10 June 2017. For more information and tickets, click here.

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