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The Girl in the Yellow Dress review at Theatre 503 London

Craig Higginson’s two-hander explores the increasingly intense relationship between an attractive young teacher of English and her charismatic French Congolese student.

Even at the beginning it is apparent that Pierre has come to Celia for more than tuition. He admits to a habit of shadowing girls in the street and this unsettles and excites her in equal measure. Both characters are adept at constructing stories about themselves. Celia’s world is an ordered one. Control is important to her and the idea of losing it is terrifying, but she is also drawn to Pierre – or at least to his story, his perceived exoticism and otherness.

Tim Roseman’s production tempers the psychological intensity of the piece with a degree of humour. It’s far less raw than an earlier production of Higginson’s play on the Edinburgh Fringe. Roseman brings out some humour in the way Celia clings to the teacher-student dynamic even as her relationship with Pierre becomes ever more sexually charged. Clifford Samuel is charming but suitably enigmatic as Pierre and Fiona Button’s crisp, measured performance manages to convey Celia’s considerable emotional baggage. Her eventual, inevitable unravelling is well-judged and there’s a fragile, fraught connection between the two which is compelling, while not quite compensating for the play’s more jarring shifts in tone.

James Perkins’ set design suggests affluence, a world walled off from the streets outside. Pierre comes into this world and the walls come down.

Production Information

Theatre 503, London, March 20-April 14

Author
Craig Higginson
Director
Tim Roseman
Producer
Theatre 503/Salisbury Playhouse
Cast includes
Fiona Button, Clifford Samuel
Running time
1hr 40mins

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