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Duet For One – Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Writer – Tom Kempinski

Director – Robin Herford

Reviewer – Joanna Forest

[rating:5]

Duet for One written by Tom Kempinski is a powerful two-hander featuring an exceptionally talented concert violinist and a doctor.

Musician Stephanie Abrahams has dedicated her life so far to improving and nurturing her musical gift and striving for excellence..Isolating at times and with many a sacrifice along the way, her tenacity has been rewarded with acheiving dreams and ambitions fulfilled. Stephanie explains to the logical and less emotional doctor that “The violin isn’t my work, it isn’t a way of life. It’s where I live”.

Stephanie appears in a wheelchair at her doctor’s appointment. She has been sent by her worried husband in the hope it will help his wife to come to terms with the fact that she will no longer be playing the violin after a diagnosis of the auto immune illness multiple sclerosis.

Devastated, frightened andvulnerable Stephaniegraduallyopens up to Dr Feldmann, who initially explains to her that although they are exploring a ‘talking cure’ together, he is not a psychotherapist. Dr Feldmann shows her understanding, compassion, empathy, and that he is committed to her 100 percent through her journey of acceptance.

It’s fascinating to be present at the appointment as a fly on the wall, finding out what really happens behind the closed doors of these incredibly private sessions between Stephanie and the doctor.

The doctor remains steadfast beside her through all the different phases of her loss. These range from ridiculously upbeat and optimistic, then reverting back to teenage stroppiness, tears and grief, till finally acceptance and a real willingness to work openly and honestly alongside the doctor who has dedicated his whole life to the improvement of other people’s quality of life.

Haydn Gwynne as Stephanie is truly captivating as the exceptionally talented bright and creative young woman whose world comes unexpectedly crashing down around her. A performance to be remembered. AndWilliam Gaunt’s Dr Alfred Feldmann is full of quiet compassion and understanding. The doctor has a revealing emotional outburst in Act Two, desperately worried that Stephanie is closer to suicide than even she realises.

We can all relate to loss, life disappointments and a situation where there seems to be no way out, but this play leaves you feeling anything can be possible and just because life doesn’t have exactly what you thought or hoped, different isn’t necessarily worse or better, just different.

This production of ‘Duet for One’, with direction from Robin Herford is thought-provoking, emotional but also ultimately uplifting: a lesson in human nature that is utterly unmissable.

Runs until 6th October then tours nationally

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