Two Ladies at The Bridge

London’s latest theatre

I paid my first visit to The Bridge Theatre last week. I was looking forward to it. I’d heard great things about the theatre, it was a new play, the director was Nicholas Hytner and the casting was strong – I’d see Zoe Wanamaker in anything.

In the event my reaction was mixed. The theatre itself was no more than okay – good sightlines, acoustics and access but cramped and uncomfortable seats. Why spoil it with poor seating? Discomfort was made worse by the lack of an interval. I know this is the latest trendy thing but please. Give me a break. Literally. Anything much over an hour needs an interval. A chance to stretch, a breath in the evening. Directors put breaths into the performances on stage. We need them off stage too. And, apart from the audience issue, I can’t understand why the theatre would forgo the much needed income from the bar.

Performances were strong with the two central characters capable of commanding the stage and drawing us in and some good support roles. I did feel there was a bit of a slump in energy somewhere in the middle though. The play shifts gear and moves from a lighter touch to something much darker. Fewer laughs, more jeopardy. The transition wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. I became aware of physical discomfort, less connected to the action (maybe an interval would have helped…). The pace did pick up again as the relationship between the women intensified even if the plot felt a little unlikely. Overall, an interesting play, well written, and some good performances so worth seeing, but with just a touch of disappointment.

Tony Earnshaw

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