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THEATRE Raya, Hampstead Theatre London

Affecting tale of mid-life crises

AFTER a student reunion, ex-lovers Alex and Jason, played with vulnerable intensity by Claire Price and Bo Poraj, return to their old flat.

In Moi Tran’s spot-on set design, it’s now a spare space of packed-up boxes, dodgy standard lamps and ghastly red carpet.

Their prevaricating and elliptical dialogue has another “character” in tow — or rather undertow — Alex’s menopause. This disorientating state is fantastically well conveyed by Price, who wants to sleep with Jason, not just for old time’s sake but to make her feel real.  

But Jason, at first all solid common sense, is in his own state, the cause of which is in part explained in the final minutes of the play.  

Mid-drama, this “will they or won’t they” couple are interrupted by Alannah, an ex-tenant who has broken in as she needs somewhere to stay that night.  

Her contemporary teen speak and body language, well portrayed by Shannon Hayes, belie her own difficulties and, unwittingly, she sets up a powerful dramatic twist from writer Deborah Bruce, one that reveals an emotionally charged backstory.  

The exchange between Alex and Alannah during that odd early-morning “lost” hour when the clocks go back, a liminal time that doesn’t really exist, is a magical idea and Roxana Silbert’s direction serves Bruce’s script well in realising it.

It is as if we are eavesdropping on the fragile and tender personal encounters between these engaging characters. 

And the hormonal dance of Alex’s menopause and the plot twist make this a play that’s so much more than a slice of life.

Runs until July 24, box office: hampsteadtheatre.com.

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