Robert Tanitch reviews Poison at Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Surrey
Plays with only two actors are much in vogue at the moment. In the last month alone there have been productions of Simon Stephens’s Heisenberg, David Ives’s Venus in Fur, David Eldridge’s Beginning and now the UK premiere of Poison by the Dutch playwright, Lot Vekemans.
Can there be anything worse than the loss of a child?
The relationship between the parents is changed forever. Nothing is going to be the same ever again. The collateral damage is enormous. Losing a child means losing themselves and then each other.
Vekemans writes about the grief and the pain and the inability to share feelings with those who are closest to the tragedy, the immediate family, and who are suffering, too.
Grief poisons any relationship.
Two parents, whose child died young, meet in the contaminated cemetery where he is buried. They have not seen each other in ten years, not since he walked out on her.
Their young son had died in hospital, having been run over by a car. She wallowed so much in her grief that he felt she was dragging him down with her.
Ten years on there is still no closure for her. She admits she is addicted to suffering. “I hate happy people,” she says. There is too much pain. It makes her angry and sarcastic. She cannot move on like he has done.
Divorced, he has remarried and his wife is pregnant. He has written a book about the death of his son. She is outraged that he is “showcasing his grief.”
The play, which has been a success in Europe and New York, lasts 90 minutes and is acted straight through without an interval.
You can’t fault the acting of Claire Price and Zubin Varla and the direction of Paul Miller.