Last night Stuart and I went to see Abi Morgan's Splendour at the Donmar Warehouse.
The plot tells the story using the metaphor of things broken. Broken characters, speaking broken lines on a broken set.
The plot is simple: Kathryn (Genevieve O'Reilly), a photo-journalist, arrives at the home of the dictator of an unnamed European state which is being torn apart by civil war, to photograph the dictator. He is not there. She (and her interpreter Gilma (Zawe Ashton)) are welcomed by Micheline (Sinéad Cusack), the dictator's wife, and they wait all day for him to arrive. As they wait, Genevieve (Michelle Fairley), Micheline's best friend, arrives. The dictator never arrives, but as the day progresses it is obvious that the rebels are getting closer and that the city is falling to them.
In the course of the day, we see relationships and loyalities dissolve. Past guilts emerge. Silences are broken and resentments, anger and all kinds of destructive emotions surface.
The play's structure is non-linear. We keep returning to earlier scenes, but with the knowledge of what has emerged since, thus deepening and enlarging the scene and throwing might light on the implications of words and actions. Thus meaning layers upon meaning and the fragile surface cracks open.
We loved it. Powerful performances all round.
It also ticked two West End Zeigeists - no interval and a jarring c-bomb.