Theatre review: Apologia, Bush Theatre, London

Apologia by Alexi Kaye Campbell
Bush Theatre

Sarah Goldberg, Paola Dionisotti, Tom Beard
With his first play The Pride last year, Alexi Kaye Campbell explored the contrasts and fine invisible threads between gay life in the 1950s and the present day. In his second play Apologia, a family reunion offers an examination of the legacies of 1960s radicalism and the impact of one woman’s devotion to the cause on herself and those around her.

The action takes place over one evening and the following morning in the rustic kitchen of leftwing art historian Kristin Miller, who is confronted by her sons (John Light and Tom Beard) and their partners over her life decisions. As Kristin, Paola Dionisotti gives a captivating performance that is funny and, at times, deeply moving.

The rest of the cast are faultless, particularly Sarah Goldberg playing Trudi, the gauche American evangelical girlfriend of one of the sons. Although she has some amusing moments, the play avoids satirising her Christianity and instead makes her a voice of common sense without religious proselytising. Campbell’s original text even opens and closes with her speaking a prologue and epilogue to the audience but these have been dropped from Josie Rourke’s production.

Some fine lines come from Philip Voss as Kristin’s loyal and urbane gay friend and from Nina Sosanya as the other son’s girlfriend, an actress who insists she is not starring in a soap but “a serialised drama that happens to follow the trajectories of various people’s lives”.

There are some rather clunky dramatic devices – characters repeatedly dart off stage for lost sweaters or to throw up in order to leave others with Kristin for a confrontation – but Apologia is still a sharp and intelligent new play.

Amateur Stage magazine

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