A brutal murder is committed in a small town in France. The dismembered corpse is dropped from a railway viaduct onto passing trains below. All except the head.

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Jillian Murray in L’amante anglaise. Image provided.

L’amante anglaise takes you into an interrogation room as a married couple, Pierre and Claire, are being questioned over a brutal murder.

The extremely minimalistic set consisted of two chairs and a single hanging fluorescent light which allowed the text and interpretation to be the main focus of the performance. Having the traverse style of seating only added to the confrontational aspect of the play; observing the other audience members made it seem as though they were in a glass box that we were unlawfully peaking into. Both of these scenic aspects definitely added to the unsettling ambience of the play. 

Laurence Strangio’s direction was nothing short of brilliant. Every choice was purposeful and calculated down to the slightest movement or inflection. This attention to detail flooded down into the two actors who presented this dark and dynamic piece of art.

Jillian Murray’s performance as Claire left me mesmerised. She was magnetic in this role. In the section of the play where Claire is being interrogated my eyes could not leave her for fear of missing the tiniest nuanced shift of her gaze. She was nothing but fascinating. This was also apparent in the first half of the play where she was taking on the role of the interrogator. I was so incredibly moved by Murray’s entire performance.

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Rob Meldrum in L’amante anglaise. Image provided.

Rob Meldrum’s portrayal of Pierre was so laid back and seemingly careless about the entire situation that it left me frustrated. I had so many more questions that I wanted to ask – another layered aspect of brilliance within this piece.

L’amante anglaise is an extremely intriguing and suspenseful piece. It left me hungry for more, even after I left the theatre.

Although the subject matter was quite dark there were some brief moments of laughter from the audience. Most stemming from either being uncomfortable or laughing out of sheer frustration; clearly, showing how much the audience was willingly dragged into being witness to this unsettling play.

It was all so disturbing but it in the most marvellous way possible.

Written by Blaze Bryans

L’amante anglaise is currently playing at fortyfivedownstairs until February 19.

To book tickets head to fortyfivedownstairs.com

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