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A Profoundly Affectionate, Passionate Devotion to Someone (-Noun) review at Royal Court, London

Shvorne Marks and Gershwyn Eustache Jnr in A Profoundly Affectionate, Passionate Devotion to Someone (-Noun) at Royal Court, London

Debbie Tucker Green has a way of making the spaces between words scream.

Her latest play, which she also directs, A Profoundly Affectionate, Passionate Devotion to Someone (-Noun) is an incredibly lean piece of writing. In her hands the stop-start patterns of everyday speech, interrupted thoughts and broken sentences, hesitations and repetitions, becomes a kind of poetry.

The play takes the form of three connected dialogues. The first, and most powerful, of these charts the course of a relationship over time. Years pass, babies arrive, sex ceases to be glorious and becomes boring; grief capsizes and silences them.

In the second piece two lovers bicker. The final dialogue knits all of these lives together.

It’s a play about listening as much as it is talking, about speaking and not being heard; it’s a play about love, but also about bodies, the pleasures they can bring and the ways they can fail.

Designer Merie Hensel has reconfigured the Upstairs space, seating the audience on little black stools in the middle of a room with chalkboard walls, like an inverted schoolroom. The actors occupy a narrow platform around the edge of this space.

While they all seem at ease with the percussion of the writing, it’s Lashana Lynch and Gershwyn Eustache Jr in the first dialogue who are given most opportunity to grow – they shift from playfulness to tenderness, anger to anguish. Meera Syal, Gary Beadle and Shvorne Marks have less of a trajectory but they relish every word, every pause, every breathe.

 

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Verdict
Lean, intimate triptych about language and love, delivered with incredible precision
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