Famous for unearthing curiosities, the Orange Tree here turns to Spain’s dramatic canon for a meditation on hopelessness written in 1973, the tail-end of Franco’s repressive regime.
Steven Elder (Juan) and Mia Austen (Susie) in Yours For The Asking at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond Photo: Tristram Kenton
Juan, a rumpled journalist and former political dissident, now writing for a downmarket women’s magazine, is sent to interview Susi, a photographic model, whose profile has been unexpectedly raised by a scandal surrounding a perfume for which she is the poster girl.
Both Susi and Juan are suicidal for different reasons - she because she feels unfairly hounded for the perfume scandal, he because he feels hopelessly trapped by a social and political system he abhors. They are fatally drawn to each other like moths to a flame.
As always, Sam Walters directs his excellent cast with vigour and intelligence. Steven Elder’s hangdog Juan descends from gloom to desperation, while Mia Austen’s Susi belies the exploitative advertising images adorning the set with a performance of real grit and thoughtfulness.
One couldn’t help wondering, however, why the Orange Tree considered this rather ponderous and dated piece worth reviving. The programme notes suggest the playwright was reacting to the repressive system of the day, but is that a good enough reason to revisit a play so lacking in real dramatic force?