Foreplay by Carl Djerassi is a play following the lives of Theodor W. Adorno (sociologist, philosopher and musicologist) and his wife Gretel Adorno and Hannah Arendt (political theorist). We join them as they are drawn together by a mysterious young woman known only as ‘Felicitas’ through their admiration and respect of Walter Benjamin (literary critic, philosopher, social critic and radio broadcaster).
The set makes the best use of the space and is very flexible to create various environments throughout the piece. It is reflective of the great minds and literary references throughout the play and the use of weighty novels and books through the library creates an instant impressive impression on the audience.
Act One took a while to get started and I did find my mind drifting at points (This was due to the script not the performers which I was very taken with). However when the plot picks up momentum and we find ourselves in the ‘thick of it’ things really begin to hot up and inter character relationships develop rather speedily, revealing a very sordid and clever plot.
This is an intensely complex piece investigating the intricacies of human nature and more importantly human desire. Powerful performances tell this story of love, sexual fantasy and betrayal and most notably Judi Scott as Hannah Arendt brings a powerful and exciting performance. Laura Hanna brings a gentle loving touch as Young Woman to a play that is otherwise embroiled in a world of deep and dark secrets.
Excellent heart-warming performances through flashbacks allow us to piece together the past with the present and follow the interwoven story of all characters. Although slow in places this piece is engaging and really quite fascinating with all its twists and turns.
Foreplay has ties to modern day themes and issues. Love, betrayal, manipulation and ego all feature strongly and at points have the audience on the edge of their seats.
The nature of this space involves the audience in the story so if you are looking for an evening of gritty drama and strong performances you won’t be disappointed by visiting The Kings Head Theatre in Islington. After all we all love a bit of Foreplay . . .
Reviewed by Matthew Wren