Love With No Remorse (The Thespian Theatre Company) at Meat Market Stables - 135 mins, plus interval
Even with the best will in the world, the path to finding and sustaining the love of one’s life is often paved with potholes.
With two younger sisters, 29-year-old Sahar (Celine Khoury) is smart and gregarious.
She studied medicine, but dropped out after two years (the reason becomes a pivotal plot point) and now works as a pharmacy assistant.
She has yet to meet Mr Right, but then Isaac (Emmanuel Eos Machitis), a smooth-talking lawyer, steps into her life. Their connection is palpable.
Photos by Sasha Goldsmith
Both are from Arab backgrounds, although his parents are well to do, while hers are not.
Cracks start to appear in the relationship just before they marry. They concern differing values.
The cracks become gaping holes and the resultant fallout is incendiary.
First time writer Touka Shoukar has given us a gritty look at reality, at love and loss, power imbalance and domestic violence.
At times an appropriately hard watch, her instincts are strong, but the work needs significant tightening. It feels too drawn out.
Ninety minutes without interval would serve the piece well.
Khoury is the glue that binds the production together and she is accomplished in the lead, bringing light and shade to her portrayal of Sahar.
Emmanuel Eos Machitis, too, carries himself well as Isaac, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I also appreciated Viv Menezes as kindly pharmacy customer, Daniel, who takes a shine to Sahar.
Steffi Gil milks her scenes as Isaac’s self-assured legal assistant (and more), Bianca.
The rest of the 12-member cast is a mixed bag, with some more adept at their craft than others.
Further, the cavernous nature of the venue means some voices don’t carry as well as they should.
My biggest beef concerns the multitude of scene changes. I have never witnessed more in a play and that frequency needs addressing.
Changing the furniture and furnishings every few minutes quickly becomes tiresome and an unnecessary distraction.
It also adds many unnecessary minutes to the running time.
Perhaps a video-based approach may have hit the mark.
Love With No Remorse deals with important societal issues, but director James Huang must find ways to rein in the production.
It is playing at Meat Market Stables until 13th August, 2023.