Charlotte and Theodore, Ustinov Studio, Bath Theatre Royal

RYAN Craig’s stark new love story, Charlotte and Theodore, has its premiere at Bath’s Ustinov Studio until 18th March, from where it will undoubtedly travel to a well-deserved spot in London.

Bitingly modern, it looks at ten years in the lives of two philosophers, caught in the constantly undulating flux of opinion and fashion on established orthodoxy. Theodore (Teddy) is secure in his long-held and hard-won position in the faculty. Charlotte (Lottie) comes for a job as an assistant, and her intelligence, chutzpah and passion blindside him. Before too long she has overtaken him in the faculty heirarchy.

Ten years later, married with two children, the balance of their lives has changed. The audience watches as the un-chronological scenes unfold. Simplistically, it is about entitled men in academia and their inability to accept the new world order, with its self-selected pronouns and demands for safety from all criticism.

At its heart it’s about how animals, including those of the human variety, fight when under threat, from wherever that threat might originate.

The play is performed by Bath native and TV star Kris Marshall and Eve Ponsonby, in the intimate surroundings of the Ustinov where every minute facial flicker packs an emotional punch. Both are simply stunning, moving from today to ten years ago to seven years later to six months later and five years before … It is seamless, compelling and totally engrossing, and, as the audience’s sympathies are swung from supporting one argument to fighting for the opposing view, we realise how impossible this situation has become.

If I have one criticism of the play, it is that the stories about the children, laugh-out-loud funny though they are, over-egg the issue and need scaling back, or they could dilute the bigger picture.  But it’s a fascinating play to see, both following Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff at the Ustinov, and more recently Home, I’m Darling in the main house.


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