Off to The Orange Tree to see Yours For The Asking, a Spanish play written in the fag end days of Franco's regime by Ana Diosdado, who, the programme note suggests, is the country's most successful contemporary woman playwright.
The play centres around the short affair between Juan, a one time investigative journalist, who, following a brief spell in prison, is reduced to writing a gossip column for a well known woman's magazine and Susi, a model who has gone from popular celebrity as the alluring face and body of a perfume ad campaign to public hate figure, after two children died inhaling the toxic fumes from the scent.
The shared loneliness of social exile pulls the lovers together after Juan is sent to Susi's flat to carry out an interview. Quickly exploiting each others sense of injustice, they spend the week holed up with each other, before the journalist returns, complete with a vividly written truthful account of their seven days together, to his work and girlfriend.
We learn very early on that one of the pair has committed suicide, after which most of the stage action is conducted through a series of clunky flashbacks, culminating in an over constructed twist right at the end.
Steven Elder plays Juan, with a cynical, weary dispassion whilst Mia Austen brings a naive sense of optimism, that somehow in a lover's arms the vitriol and exclusion she experiences might simply evaporate. She is distraught when Juan makes his excuse and escape.
In some ways the play reminded me of a weak version of von Donnersmarck's brilliant movie The Lives of Others, in as much as it paints a tragic picture of forbidden freedom in a totalitarian regime, but ultimately. the piece lacks a unifying metaphor and instead we're left with a simple, more direct, story of a man burnt out by his struggles to reveal the truth.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.