Love and Other Acts of Violence @ Donmar Warehouse Review

Located 65KM from the Polish border, Western Ukrainian city L’viv, also known as Lwów, Lviv and Lemberg has witnessed a complex history between the Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish communities, the various names of the city an indicator of the region’s diversity. A centuries long history, the Lemberg Progrom of 1918, marked a very dark period within the region’s history. Fast forward to present day UK and we have the ancestors of Lemberg continuing on from this complex legacy, Cordelia Lynn’s Love and Other Acts of Violence exploring the ripples of war, love and loss.

Courtesy of Helen Murray.

Love and Acts of Violence is a bold, topical, political theatrical piece, tracing the journey of a tumultuous union. Two young lovers, played playfully yet intensely by Abigail Weinstock and Tom Mothersdale, navigate their way through romantic tensions – from comical beginnings, having met at party, to the pair now living together and their relationship becoming increasingly intense. Although a cast of two, the play feels bigger than them, it’s a case of this couple battling the rest of the world, yet they themselves battling one another. Wider tensions playing out in the confines of their relationship, a young Jewish physicist and activist poet continually trying to find the middle ground, trying to put aside cultural tensions, yet heat of the moment comments painful, intruding on their union, and painful to listen to. Vocal weaponry used against one another in the knowledge that these words will cause pain. Lynn’s script intricately observing the combative nature of love and the fall out of this.

We hear of protests, threats, what ifs and tensions, the world around them becoming increasingly hostile, we grapple the sense of fear felt by both parties. They, although a small part of the puzzle, figuring out their roles and the parts they play within a future that could either embrace or destroy them. This is a story of survival. Surrounded by mounds of ash, and set a top a minimal wooden square stage designed beautifully by Basia Bińkowska, we’re constantly reminded of the devastating impact of conflict and war, and how this ripples across generations, even if not immediately experienced. Elayce Ismail directs an increasingly poignant production, voice overs echoing the thoughts of the cast which is haunting, movement segments choreographed beautifully by Yarit Dor deepening the show’s unspoken, visual language. The show is split into two, rewinding back in time to Lemberg 1918 where we  witness the vicious impact of the Lemberg Program in the Ukraine, Richard Katz the charismatic paternal figure protecting all from harm around him, echoes of the future feeding thoughtfully into this part of the show, the epilogue in turn contributing additional weight to the prior scenes watched. Love and Other Acts of Violence is a tale of generational trauma and the cyclical nature of humanity, a powerful watch.

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Love and Other Acts of Violence is currently showing until Saturday 27th November 2021 at the Donmar Warehouse. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop