My evening with Treatment started with a nice pre-theatre dinner in the new Italian spot by chef Francesco Mazzei called Radici. The restaurant is overlooking Almeida theater and having a table near the window I had a good view not only of the theater itself but of the Treatment play cast including Matthew Needham, Gary Beadle, and others while on their break after the matinee performance. It was a fun addition to the experience as I accustomed myself to seeing each one of them, so then the performance started it really felt like seeing the old friends.
The Treatment turned out to be much better than I expected. It s a revival of the 1993s dark film-industry satire by Martin Crimp. The revival was picked by Lyndsey Turner better known for her famous Hamlet play starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Treatment play is set in the movie industry in New York and unfolds around a seemingly innocent young woman Anne (Aisling Loftus) who ran away from Brooklyn and her abusive marriage to share her painful experience of being tied up to a chair, gagged and threatened by her husband. Anne answers an add in a newspaper and shares her story with two film producers Jennifer (Indira Varma) and Andrew (Julian Ovenden), a married couple, who’s only interest is to make more money out of a story and suit the demands of the media. And that’s when Anne shares her story only to see it’s been falsified. «This is not my idea of Anne» is, in fact, the most genius line of the show dropped by Jennifer’s assistant Nicky (Ellora Torchia). “Once you come to us with your story, your story is also ours” is the painful truth of our society that Anna has to face if she wants to be heard.
The play was written in 1993 but feels painfully modern. Not only nothing has changed in the way people treat each other especially in the media/film industry but it only got worst. The play is about the falsification of truth (do not forget that Treatment is part of Almeida’s ‘post-truth’ season), phony people, relationships and perhaps a perception of a big city and the way people find their places in it.
Indira Varma playing Jennifer is brilliant, her character is calculating, cold-hearted and manipulative. Andrew played by Julian Ovenden has cynical feelings for Anne but suddenly comes to a realisation that he is, in fact, in love with her and that she is the only real and down to earth person he’s seen in years. Even though Oveden’s play is strong, the production fails to show us the drastic changes his character is facing, so his character does not convince us in the real feelings he is experiencing, wich is one of the minor flaws of the play. Aisling Loftus’s Anne is mesmerising, the actress gives a stunning performance, portraying a very complex character and Matthew Needham, who you probably know from a hit Oscar-Winning short film Stutterer, has a very short but convincing performance of a working-class delusional man. Ben Onwukwe’s crazy blind taxi driver adds comedy and absurd to the story, perhaps showing us how delusional and lost we all are?
The Treatment runs until the 10th of June 2017 in Almeida Theatre