The Knot of the Heart review (David Eldridge) at Almeida Theatre - superbly convincing cast and clever props
"Why has this happened to us? Things like this don't happen to families like ours."
"I love you." "No, I love you." "I love you." And it went on. It is not easy to carry on a dialogue like this convincingly but this one played by Lucy (Lisa Dillon) and her mother, Barbara (Margot Leicester) in the second last scene of The Knot of the Heart evoked such emotion that there were some audible sniffles in audience.
Lucy, a middle-class 27 year old woman, full of self confidence was embarking on a budding career as a children TV presentor when she was caught smoking heroin in the dressing room and promptly removed from the show. Everything went downhill from there on.
The opening scene shows Lucy and Barbara sitting out in garden with Barbara feeling a bit uneasy but equally relieved that her little one is back. Upon hearing Lucy's side of the story, her mother's maternal instinct kicks in and she asks Lucy to stay on for the time being. It is apparent that Lucy finds her heroin addiction, which started as a social habit, hard to kick. The audience is baffled at how Barbara, instead of chiding her, gives in to Lucy addiction. In return Lucy promises her that she'll never 'inject'.
As the story goes on, Lucy sinks deeper and even resorted to prostitution to fund her heroin. Barbara finds out and is heartbroken. To prevent that from occurring, Babara even goes to the extent of meeting drug pushers in 'a cafe on the High Street' to obtain drugs for Lucy. Lucy's older solicitor sister, Angela (Abigail Crutttenden) never lets her forget about how she is leeching on their mother, both emotionally and monetary. In a fit of anger, Barbara drove Angela out of the house.
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After a successful run at the Almeida Theatre in 2004 with his Feston, David Eldridge came back the Almeida with his The Knot of the Heart. The play explores the undercurrents of a broken family - a missing father, an indulgent mother and two sisters that couldn't stand the sight of each other. Supported by Sophie Stanton who plays a staff at the shelter that Lucy seeks help in, and Kieran Bew who took up all the male characters in the play, the cast shone and kept the entire play on an even note. Dillon was especially convincing in her role of Lucy. From the desperate young woman still with a tinge of haughtiness to the trodden upon junkie, from the person who has been offered a glimmer of hope to the daughter who finally found out about the truth about her father, Dillon delivered without missing a beat.
To keep up with the many changing scenes, the play adopted a revolving stage, which allowed for props to be moved without interrupting the storytelling. That was perhaps one of the main factors for its success. The final scene, however, seemed a bit out of place and was somewhat an anticlimax after an emotional scene between the mother and daughter when the truth was laid bare.
The Knot of the Heart is playing at Almeida Theatre till 30 April. Reserve your tickets at 020 7359 4404 or book them on www.almeida.co.uk.