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Waiting for Godski - Splendour by Abi Morgan at Red Stitch
Belinda McClory's performance in Splendour is a mesmerising tour-de-force. Her Micheleine - played as a teflon-coated amoral partner-in-crime to an absent dictator - is a brilliant portrayal akin to watching a slow motion train wreck. McClory's brittle First Lady is so convincing – complete with an eastern European accent you could cut with a scimitar – that this reviewer for one was hoping not to bump into her at the opening night after-party.
Playwright Abi Morgan uses the device of repeating the action at intervals throughout the hour and forty minutes, each time revealing a little more of the subtext of what is actually going on under the surface and outside the four walls of the ruler's residence. The dialogue is realistic and fast-paced and grows steadily faster with each repeat as a kind of shorthand reminder for the audience. It's an occasionally clunky method of driving the narrative forward, but on the whole a successful one.
Olga Markeeva as Micheleine's 'best friend' Genevieve gives her usual stalwart performance, and Rosie Lockhart as Kathryn the freelance photographer caught up in the political turmoil starts out one-dimensional but grows into the role by play's end. Olivia Monticciolo as Gilma, the interpreter-cum-petty-thief who acts as conduit between Kathryn and the two other women, provides some rare moments of levity as well as a means by which each 'side' can reveal their true feelings in the passages that are not translated.
(L-R) Belinda McClory as Micheleine, Olga Makeeva as Genevieve and Olivia Monticcolo as Gilma