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Two Rounds (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Two Rounds

Society: London (professional shows)

Venue: Jermyn Street Theatre. 16b Jermyn Street, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6ST

Credits: Written by Cristina Comencini. Directed by Aida Rocci. Presented by Aslant Theatre Company.

Two Rounds

4 stars


Photo: Giulia Delprato

Beautifully observed and thoughtfully paced, this play explores the experience of Italian women across two generations.

Act 1 presents four 1960s women playing cards while their children play nearby. Act two gives us their four daughters in the early 2000s, clearly lifelong friends, meeting after the funeral (suicide) of one of the mothers.

The first group have to find their fulfilment (or lack of it) at home although – this is Italy, after all – one is having an affair and one has a serially unfaithful husband. The daughters have high powered jobs –  doctor, concert pianist, lawyer – but somehow they’re not much happier than their mothers were. It’s just the issues which are different.

The four actors (splendidly directed by Aida Rocci) are richly convincing in each of their two roles. Natalie Cutler is brittle as tactless Claudia and moving as her childless, single daughter on her fourth round of IVF. Donna Mazzocchio is good as the twittery, pregnant Beatrice and terrific as her distraught, bereaved daughter. Flora Sowerby finds a lot of anger and frustration in Gabriella who has given up a career in music to raise a family. As her daughter, Sara, who actually has the glittering international career she is forthright and funny but also troubled in her marriage. Finally comes Saria Steyl whose two characters are similarly rational and reasonable, on the surface at least. However, she may be successful paediatrician married to a gynaecologist but at heart she’d still like children of her own.

This intelligent play has had a lot of success in Italy. Part of Jermyn Street’s Footprints Festival, this is the UK debut in English. A word of praise for sound designer Hattie North who uses evocative pop tunes for both eras (“I’m a believer” in Italian!) and some effective undertones to heighten the emotional impact of some of the speeches.

First published by Sardines:

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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