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Apologia review at Bush London

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Family reunion plays always offer an implicit criticism of parenting – after all, without generational antagonism, there would be no drama. Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Apologia is set during the birthday party of sixty-something Kristin, a successful art historian who was a radical firebrand in the student revolutionary movements of the sixties. As her grown-up sons, Peter and Simon, arrive with their partners, Trudi and Claire, the personal scars from her career choices are exposed.

While Kristin is a passionate advocate of political change, she has paid the price in her private life. Divorced by her husband, deprived of custody of her children, she now has to face their accumulated anger. But as they complain of her deficiencies as a mother, she fights back, exposing their selfish values. And it’s the women, American Trudi and soap star Claire, that attract particularly withering fire from this feminist socialist.

This is a well written, humorous and deeply felt drama, with an exquisite scene in which Kristin removes shards of glass from Simon’s hand. Alexi Kaye Campbell clearly understands the psychology of mutual recrimination and there is a strong feeling that we have lost the spirit that made the sixties so exciting. At the same time, the writing is a bit too polite and you long for more emotional speeches. As one of the minor characters says, the English would “rather have a limb amputated than make scene”.

Directed with great clarity and emotional depth by Josie Rourke, on designer Peter McKintosh’s detailed kitchen set, the play focuses on Paola Dionisotti’s Kristin, who is both fragile and feisty. Well supported by Tom Beard and John Light as her aggrieved sons, with Sarah Goldberg as the naive but redemptive Trudi and Nina Sosanya as the feisty Claire, the cast is rounded off by Philip Voss as Kristin’s old comrade. As a critique of past illusions that also questions the current malaise, Apologia needs no apology.

Production Information

Bush, London, June 17-July 18

Author
Alexi Kaye Campbell
Director
Josie Rourke
Producer
Bush Theatre
Cast includes
Tom Beard, Paola Dionisotti, Sarah Goldberg, Nina Sosanya
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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