Cure (National Theatre, Cottesloe)
The presence of
Ralph Fiennes in the National's smallest theatre, the Cottesloe,
has ensured a sell-out for The Talking Cure.
But the sheer folly
of putting this play into the Cottesloe's space is magnified by
a staging that would sit far more comfortably in the larger Lyttelton:
Tim Hatley's set takes in the entire length of the theatre
rather than its width, and then plays out its five different locales
on three tiers and a moving staircase.
Given the demand
for tickets (thanks to Fiennes), it would also have made more commercial
and democratic sense to allow more people to see it in a larger
theatre, and one moreover where there would have been a wider range
of ticket prices available - not the £27 here for all but
some side or restricted view seats.
and dreams about psychiatric treatment underpin The Talking
It is, however,
certainly worth whatever effort it takes to see the fine Fiennes
in any role he plays; and he doesn't disappoint here.
Ralph plays Carl
Gustav Jung, protégée and eventually rival to Freud
and his theories that have formed the basis of modern psychiatry.
Hampton's play seeks to present a theatrical picture of the
'talking cure' treatment that they pioneered, as well as
the impact of the work on their personal lives and the professional
conflicts that arose between them.
As played by Fiennes
with watchful unease, Jung is a man being torn apart by emotions
he is trying to keep in check as he finds himself falling in love
with the first patient he attempts to treat.
As that patient,
another film actress Jodhi May returns to the stage to chart
an amazing progress from the nervous intensity of madness to the
more subtle erotic claims she makes on her doctor.
play is densely loaded with debate and dreams, facts and information,
it would probably work better as a screenplay than a play.
There are too many
scenes (27 in all), stretched across five different locations and
along a time span of nine years. And Howard Davies's mammoth
production threatens to dwarf both play and its players.