Love and Other Acts of Violence review: A little out of time

Cordelia Lynn’s latest play is a series of echoes, an arch meditation on inherited trauma and cycles of interpersonal and societal violence

Ava Wong Davies
Sunday 17 October 2021 23:59
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<p>Tom Mothersdale (Him) and Abigail Weinstock (Her) in ‘Love and Other Acts of Violence’</p>

Tom Mothersdale (Him) and Abigail Weinstock (Her) in ‘Love and Other Acts of Violence’

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young couple meet at a party. He is brash, nervous, and talks too much about the protests he’s organising at his university. She is reserved, put off by his zeal, but ultimately charmed. Their relationship unfurls, slowly and then quickly, all while the world behind them begins to burn.

Cordelia Lynn’s latest play is a series of echoes, an arch meditation on inherited trauma and cycles of interpersonal and societal violence, but it starts off in the vein of Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs or Nick Payne’s Constellations: a series of elliptical conversations that fuse the existential and the sensual, charting the decade-long relationship between two erudite, middle-class university professors, a play peppered through with winking lines like, “It’s our socialist duty to reduce the orgasm deficit.” The writing still shines, despite the familiarity: Lynn has a rhythmic ear, and there is something irresistible in the verbal tennis Tom Mothersdale’s Him and Abigail Weinstock’s Her play with each other.

The difference is in the seams of cruelty that run through their affair: as the society around them collapses into a fascist state, moments of violence splinter through their relationship. As the passionate activist and poet, Mothersdale has a rangy, mercurial charisma, agitated and prowling around the stage. His tactics alarm Weinstock’s more controlled Jewish university physicist, a woman who wants to believe in the goodness of the state but holds a well of inherited grief in her body.

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