Various times until 29th August (not Mondays) @ Traverse
An ex-pat British woman agrees reluctantly to take on an eager and proficient young Frenchman for private English lessons from her sophisticated Paris apartment. Slim and elegant Celia appears unnerved by Pierre’s interest in her and so uses her position to probe him for revelations about himself which he duly supplies. Later, flattered and softened by his intense but gentle attentions she becomes coy and flirtatious – letting her careful manner and professional guard relax so far that she too presents a secret chapter of her story to counter Pierre’s piece of representative narrative. But after their next step towards intimacy will provoke questions over who is taking advantage of whom, and whether they are indeed speaking the same language.
This is a thoughtfully written depiction of a contemporary romantic encounter. Both characters are eloquently drawn and eloquent themselves – able to make stinging attacks and impassioned speeches as the relationship enters dangerous waters. The use of the vocabulary of English grammar adds a layer of double-entendre and humour to the pair’s dialogue. It also primes us for the considered exploration of how language can betray and mislead us both intentionally through misrepresentation and accidentally through mistranslation.
The clash between our two players does not only contribute to the modern discourse on individual human relations but holds points of interpretation on post-post-colonial issues of race and culture. Due to the brilliant script these points are made an integral aspect of the relationship between these two characters without loading their brief relationship with too much responsibility to represent entirely the culture clash of modern societies.
The acting of the leads is superb – engendering sympathy and empathy for both from start to finish.
The method of introducing the chapter titles – which mirror the subject of Pierre’s advancing English lessons, is as delightful as the chapters are cleverly devised. A thoroughly interesting and well-produced piece of writing.