The Lover – Lyceum

Underage sex at the Lyceum – what a difference the distance of time and country makes to such a concept.

If this were set in our society there would be shock, outrage, a police investigation. Set in Vietnam in the 1930s there is poetry, lyricism and a celebration of sensuality.

“The Lover” is an adaptation of the book by Marguerite Duras which looks back with nostalgia and longing to the affair she had as a 15 year old schoolgirl in Saigon wth a wealthy 27 year old Chinese man. Their relationship was known about but frowned upon – it was the difference in culture and class which made this liaison impossible.

Jemima Levick of Stellar Quines and Fleur Darkin from Scottish Dance Theatre have come together with the Lyceum for this stage adaptation mixing monologue, dance and music to produce a haunting theatrical experience.

The stage setting is simple – a flowing curve for the Mekong river, the river which divides the time and space of this memory. Susan Vidler as The Woman is the older narrator of these feelings remembered, a love that has shaped her life and lasted through the years. Through controlled, elegant, sinuous dance Amy Hollinshead and Yosuke Kusano thrillingly capture the essence of sensual passion.

Through voiceovers The Girl’s thoughts and emotions develop as a year passes and love intensifies. The descriptions of sky, sunsets and the river are very much part of this bubble, with the bustle of Saigon outside their slatted bedroom window only yards but a world away. There are hints and fragments of the colonial world, an awkward meeting with her family, whispers and rumours about her behaviour.

Torbert Lars Sylvest has given the piece a powerful soundtrack. The music is a brilliant counterpoint to these emotions, but not recognising the numbers I wish there had been a playlist in the programme.

This evocation of time lost, the awakening of youth, and a world no longer there is sweetly and lyrically poignant. The years are harsh to Vietnam, but this is only glanced upon. In the end most powerful of all are personal memories.

Lyceum until February 3rd.


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