“I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight…” it begins with the Chris De Burgh song of the same title. A lady in red, enters a sparce stage; just a table with a Christmas Tree, two chairs and a suitcase, half packed on the floor.
The one-woman, short play of only 45 minutes is a story exploring a woman’s struggle to break free from the chains of love. Set at Christmas time, Rose is struggling to remember where she is, how she got there, and why she’s covered in blood and pain. As she weaves through her taunted memories, she bares her struggles to us as she begins to piece together her dark and violent memories.
The production is by Certain Curtain Theatre, a company with an established history of exploring the complex issues around domestic abuse. The professional touring company, established in 1989, use dynamic, issue-based drama to create art that is dark, human and beautiful – a sentence that provides a true description of this production.
The play, written by Claire Moore and John Woudberg, is poetic in nature, and some lines are rhythmic and rhyming. I started to believe that these rhyming sections were pertinent to Rose’s deep thoughts of hurt and pain, however as the play progressed the rhyming sections became more regular and rather sporadic.
There was a ‘red’ rhyming motif that was repeated throughout, foreshadowing the consequence that comes to light at the end. This was also blended well with the lighting, as a deep red penetrates the stage, intensifying the sharp words.
As with most poetry, often rhyming words are read to a particular rhythm – a rhythm that in my opinion stifled some of the more intense moments, not allowing the actress to reach the depths the topic and the words deserved. For me, the most powerful moments of emotional intensity came from the naturalistic elements where you see the deep inset fear Rose has of her abusive husband.
The play offers a very human uncovering of a woman’s struggle with love and an abusive relationship. The contemporary, somewhat edgy play allows you really connect with the character and, although for me some parts of the writing didn’t quite hit the mark in a theatrical sense, within lies a compelling story told creatively and expressively as it unplucks her inner turmoil, angst, and fear.
There’s one last chance to see Lady In Red at The Lowry as part of The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, on Tuesday 21st September, 8pm. You can get tickets from: https://thelowry.com/whats-on/greater-manchester-fringe-lady-in-red/
Reviewer: Alison Ruck
Reviewed: 20th September 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★