"Hare’s powerful and brutal drama"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 15/06/19

Currently playing at Chichester Festival Theatre is one of David Hare’s early works “Plenty” first performed in 1978. His “South Downs” and “Young Chekhov Trilogy” both premiered at Chichester and later transferred to London. “Plenty” however received a controversial response when opening in London but has since been hailed as a modern classic.

This revival is a passionate look at the betrayal of ideals, so bitterly fought for in the Second World War, that resulted in a disillusioned world of ‘plenty’ in post war Britain. Spanning a period of some 20 years, young, courageous resistance courier Susan Traherne, while working in France stumbles across a fellow agent Codename Lazar, but she later marries a Diplomat Raymond Brock. Desperate for a child and bored by her various periods of peacetime employment, she longs for the danger and romance of her former life. Susan’s mental torment spirals out of control and deteriorates into a mental breakdown tearing up her worldly possessions. She finally reconnects briefly with Lazar in a seedy hotel room, a far cry from the opulence of her Knightsbridge abode.

Kate Hewitt directs, her Chichester directing debut being last year when she directed Mike Bartlett’s “Cock” but this time she has the main house for Hare’s complicated and brutal drama. Georgia Lowe has the difficult task of creating sets to depict both war time flashbacks and lavish London interiors and has favoured an abstract minimalist set with a glass floor with a 3 metre drop below and a large beaded curtain. Unfortunately, the endless manoeuvres of furniture being moved on and off stage (often by up to a dozen people) detracts greatly from the production.
Rachel Stirling, making her Chichester debut, plays the heroine Susan Traherne. A mammoth role as she barely leaves the stage, involving various costume changes in situ. She bravely inhabits this vulnerable and unbalanced strong-minded character as her mental illness takes hold upon her. Raymond Brock, her husband, is admirably played by Rory Keenan, an ineffectual diplomat who risks losing everything as his wife’s madness escalates. Good support too from Anthony Calf in the role of Ambassador Sir Leonard Darwin. Though only a limited part as Codename Lazar Rupert Young gives a fine performance.

This is a complicated journey into the psychological effects and restlessness of a threatened identity spawned by the contrasting situations of heightened danger with an unsatisfying post war lifestyle of leisure and abundant wealth.

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