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The March on Russia review at Orange Tree Theatre – ‘powerfully affecting’

Sue Wallace and Ian Gelder in The March on Russia at the Orange Tree Theatre, London. Photo:Tristram Kenton
Sue Wallace and Ian Gelder in The March on Russia at the Orange Tree Theatre, London. Photo:Tristram Kenton
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The aged couple at the heart of this revival of the late David Storey’s The March on Russia – first staged at the National in 1989 – measure out their lives with teaspoons and regret. On their 60th wedding anniversary, Mr and Mrs Pasmore’s children come to visit and the gulf between young and old is like an ache.

Storey’s work for the Royal Court Theatre helped introduce working-class, northern lives to the London stage in the 1960s and 1970s. His depiction of a Yorkshire full of closed-down coal pits is elegiac – grist for the memories in which ex-miner Mr Pasmore gets lost. The atmosphere is hauntingly melancholic.

Alice Hamilton returns to the Orange Tree after directing Robert Holman’s German Skerries in 2016. She demonstrates the same confident grasp of the power of stillness here. She brings out every detail of Storey’s finely textured portrayal of a marriage in later years, as the Pasmores move painfully through daily routines.

Anxiety about change throbs away, as the Pasmores’ son Colin grapples with depression and their daughter Wendy prepares for a divorce. There’s a mournful truthfulness, sketched out beautifully by Storey, to the way that this has become a family of strangers, whose feelings only escape in snipes and asides.

Colin Tierney, Sarah Belcher and Connie Walker do good, nuanced work as the fractious siblings, but this production belongs to Ian Gelder and Sue Wallace as the Pasmores. You feel the weight of the years in their every bitterly funny jibe, but also the love. It stings.

Verdict
Powerfully affecting revival of David Storey’s play about love and regret in later life
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