The Treatment Apr. ’17

london west end

Anna (Aisling Loftus) has a story to tell.

We are in the minimalist office of a pair of filmmakers Jennifer (Indira Varma) , clearly the more driven part of this work and pivate relationship,  and Andrew (Julian Ovendon), the more hedonistic part, where they both try to find a new treatment for a movie.

There’s Clifford (Ian Gelder) , who once wrote a play that made it to broadsway and since then has written a new play each year in the hopes of recapturing his erstwhile success. He lives for this but has to sell his last valuables just in order to survive,  not that he would  actually say that, even though he tells everybody who stops at his flea market stand his story.

The story he wants to sell to Jennifer and Andrew for quite a while now, is about an artist who paints a pair of lovers after he watches their love making with  their consent. When he is run over by a bus, his apartment is sold to a religious woman, who, after discovering his secret studio, destroys his masterpieces because they offend her religion.

Anna’s story is different.  She tells about her life, clearly traumatised, of being tied to a  chair by her husband, being worshipped, being told stories. Not being allowed outside… Jennifer tries to spicen up the tale by alleged sexual assaul, violence, but Anne is adamant:  nothing like it happened.  She’s just being kept like a treasure in a safe place.

As she tries to run, she meets an apparently blind taxi driver, who navigates the streets of New York seemingly by sound only. Still, he’s sunny and friendly, an aberration in an otherwise cold world.

It’s now that Jennifer and Andrew call Clifford to get Anne’s story in the form of a treatment. The story has already changed significantly due to Clifford’s input, and the ideas a director – apparently Jennifer’s ex lover – offers.

By the time Andrew seduces Anna while Clifford is watching in the shadows, Anna’s story has merged into Clifford’s story and taken on a new life. A life Anna hadn’t lived. A life distorted from reality. It’s then Anna’s husband finds her, changed, more mentally hurt and violated  than before,  and he accepts her challenge. He blinds Clifford to avenge Anna.

The movie is a huge success. Jennifer basks in it until she realises that her secretary,  who played Anna, is the star – and the director’s new fling. Andrew is on his way to search for Anna.  He finds her, sitting in a chair as if bound, waiting for her husband to come and cook for her. When he arrives a fight breaks out and she flees this violence.  A gunshot rings. Jennifer has killed Anna. Her panic had made her blind to the fact that it was Anna running towards her.

The blind cab driver has a new client. A client he’s very proud to have. It’s Clifford who finally and thanks to his script for the movie is famous again.

How do we perceive truth. Is my version of my truth the right one or even the only one? How much are we all influenced by preconceived notions of “truth”? How much are we letting ourselves be influenced by the truths od others? Hwo much are we destroying others when we pin our truths onto them?

The play gives us a lot of questions and some answers but it is the actors who make us believe and think and feel with them. Indira Varma as the cool, high heeled domina like interrogator was just brilliant. Julian Ovendon creeped me out – so that’s  a thumbs up as well. I liked Aisling Loftus but got put off by some of her mannerisms she probably created for her character. And I absolutely adored  Ian Gelder, who incorporated the needy, talkative, lonely writer, who who had to sacrifice his sight for his lifelong dream. There’s a scene where the cast is celebrating and dancing – utter perfection.

Yup, saw it more than once. Even met Ben Daniels, when I  tried to not fall out of a taxi, when he was in the audience just like me.

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