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Watermill - Old World

30th August to 30th September 2000.

In unlikely surroundings, in the twilight of their lives, two extraordinary people meet, and find what they've been waiting for.

From the Newbury Weekly News:

Sparkling exchanges between seasoned actors

'OLD WORLD' at the Watermill Theatre, from Wednesday, August 30 to Saturday, September 30

Old World is a good old-fashioned love story, delightfully performed by two seasoned actors.

Written by Aleksei Arbuzov and translated by Ariadne Nicolaeff, it retains an essential Russian quality and its theme, age and the blossoming love of two very diverse characters, romantically unfolds in a series of scenes of wonderfully observed interactions. Often very funny, sometimes moving, and always holding the audience in absolute rapt enjoyment.

The characters are simply described in the programme is The Man and The Woman. He is the medical head of a sanatorium on the shore of the Gulf of Riga, Russia. She is a patient but hates being described as such. He lost his wife in the Second World War and thought he could never love again. She is an eccentric ex-circus performer whose husband left her for a younger woman but she is still full of optimism.

After a slightly uneasy start we were soon into some sparkling exchanges. Director Euan Smith's direction and the actors' experience ensured that these were intense, sometimes sad and reflective, but always buoyed by humour.

Patricia England as The Woman perfectly displayed all the youthful qualities in her character that time could simply not diminish. Overtly flirtatious, unpredictable, poignant, yet full of life, she enthralled both The Man, and the audience.

Peter Sproule (The Man) is an accomplished actor who skillfully reacted to the eccentricities of The Woman. Angry and exasperated, slowly he thawed as feelings of bitterness and confusion materialised into a totally unexpected love.

Saul Radomsky's circus-like arena with four banquettes and halo of blue and chasing lights provided a simple yet versatile space for the actors to play out their story in the round. Robert Bryan's atmospheric lighting, original music to link the scenes and subtle sound effects all added to the high gloss of this heart- warming production, perfect for an end-of-summer evening.


From Kick FM:

The current production at the Watermill is Old World. It’s by a Russian author, Aleksei Arbuzov, and it’s the story of two lonely oldish people, a hospital doctor and his difficult patient. They gradually become friends and the relationship deepens as they let themselves get closer together.

Sounds a bit heavy, but it isn’t really. It’s a gentle comedy, with perceptive insights into the way that people who are used to living alone have difficulties in forming relationships.

There are just these two people in it. They’re played by Patricia England and Peter Sproule, and on the Watermill’s little stage, in the round for this play, they gave us two intimate and touching performances. We could see how their characters changed – prickly and suspicious at first, then opening up more but always frightened of committing themselves fully to the other person. Both of them had the experiences of previous relationships which were influencing their approach to the new relationship.

It’s a romantic story, and (at the risk of sounding sexist) it’ll maybe appeal to women more than to men. The comedy is always there, but there’s a sadness that pervades the play which is a bit reminiscent of Chekhov.

It’s on at the Watermill until the 30th of September.