One of my favourite London Pub Theatres is Barons Court Theatre, which is located in the basement of The Curtains Up pub. This week I was back there for All’s Well That Ends: a play by Andreea Tănase which interestingly follows a couple who are at the end of their marriage and have invited the audience to their ‘divorce party’. After a very busy week, I was thrilled to be able to head into London for this new presentation of work which features direction from the venue’s very own Executive Director Leo Bacica. The theatre champions new writing and always has such a varied programme, which is why I am always keen to squeeze in a review if I can.
Featuring Nico Marica as Daria and Gerardo Cabal as Radu, Andreea Tănase’s play offers an unfiltered insight into the fictional couple’s marriage. Their love story and eventual breakup is told through key flashbacks, which are separated by musical sequences, costume and set changes. Interestingly it is told through the genre of screwball comedy, with some hilarious relationship and implied sex scenes. The content of the play resembles pieces of a puzzle which are gradually slotted together, highlighting where everything went wrong for such a loved-up couple.
Rather than follow chronological order, the play jumps between the present day divorce party and moments that have driven the evolution of the relationship. It is a little confusing to follow in places, given that the material flits between the honeymoon phase, moments of insecurity and the decline of their relationship. However the present day personal reflections between each event bring the whole piece together, making the audience realise why each of these moments in time need a feature.
For an intimate and short production, there are lots of visual changes. Whilst they sometimes slow down and affect the overall flow of the show, the different sets, lighting effects and costumes make it clear where the characters are in their overall relationship timeline and subsequently help the audience picture the impact that time has had.
Immersive atmosphere and lighting design
There is a relaxed, party atmosphere in the room from the minute that the audience enters the theatre. The lighting is vibrant and multicoloured, brightening the theatre space for the arrival of the ‘party goers’ or members of the audience. The performers are in full evening wear, holding glasses of fizz and chatting to members of the audience.
The fun, bold lighting continues throughout the show, helping to create a club atmosphere and showcase the couple’s early relationship. Strong colours are used as the material progresses, with red hues being projected onto the bed in one of the implied sex scenes, which adds both humour and colour to the production.
Fantastic chemistry on stage
The chemistry between Marcia and Cabal is undeniable, with the performers managing to be both outrageously funny and sensitive in the moments where painful topics are brought up. There is a really emotional sequence where the characters use humour and alcohol as a coping mechanism for not being able to have children. Whilst the topic covered is extremely sad, it is a really thoughtful and relatable way to cover the personal grief, showing the audience how having children is such a difficult topic for them.
Throughout the play Tănase’s writing leaves nothing unsaid, with the cast managing to share the words, showcase the pain caused and still portray the underlying sense of respect that the former partners have for each other, even right at the end. It’s a rollercoaster of a show that looks at the realities of marriage and growing apart, which Bacica has cleverly brought out through his direction.
The outrageously entertaining play with complex underlying themes closes this evening, after a week of performances at Barons Court. I am excited to see what comes next for this piece of new writing. Bacica has brought the work to life in a brilliantly funny and empathetic way, showcasing divorce from an entirely different, almost celebratory perspective.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx
*My ticket for All’s Well That Ends was gifted in exchange for a review.