This is first production of the final season of the Donmar at the Trafalgar Studios and it has been a great venture. It produced some interesting work that were both ambitious and intimate. The Promise was no exception with the love triangle first blossomed during the siege of Leningrad and the story followed them for the next 20 years. The first half provided the harrowing condition brought on by the siege with constant desire for food and warm and surviving on believe and each other. The trio went their separate way fighting in the war and reunited afterwards and they were forced to decide their future with each other. There was a lot of subtlety concerning their relationships which other and the intrigue lies in its development and whether the war shaped it in a constructive or destructive way. The relationship also served as an allegory of how the survivor of the siege saw the war as something that was painful but has a significant emotion tie to embrace or something to be forgotten by distracting oneself in duty and responsibility. It was not a flawless play: the decisions of the protagonist were at times unbelievable but it was supported by some excellent acting and the actors carried the convictions of their actions with gusto and it was hard not to be swayed. Max Bennett, Gwilym Lee and angelical Joanna Vanderham skilfully and convincingly played the three characters from teenagers caught in a war through the jaded adults in their 30s full of emotional conflict and torture. The lines in this new version by Penelope Skinner had a great rhythm to them and managed to avoid it descending into melodrama. The production and sound design, especially in the first act, provided a real feel of coldness and the devastation of war. However, I am less convinced by the overuse of Tchaikovsky as a tool to link to a dashed dreams and the moment of previous intimacy, as much as I am a fan of Tchaikovsky. Nonetheless, this was a well acted production with some interesting thoughts on fresh beginning, among other things.


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