Yosuke Kusano and Amy Hollinshead in The Lover.

The Lover

Brevity can aid clarity.

The Lover was a short book, this is a relatively short theatre / dance performance, and this is a relatively short review.

The Lover is beautiful: visually sparse but still both epic and intimate, with stunning physical moves and choreographed interaction, and a soundtrack that has has you aching to get hold of the Spotify playlist.

The story is based on Marguerite Duras’ slim novella of the same name. The story is a sort of 1920s precursor of Nabokov’s Lolita – a story of forbidden love between a grown man and a young girl. It’s about love, the passing of time, memory, growing up, and plain old sex and passion. Duras is also the author of a book more famous for its film realisation with Hiroshima, Mon Amour.

Heat and Lust

The way in which the first sex scene evolves is a truly memorable and stunning spectacle, with the costume, music, lighting and set all working together to highlight the liquid, highly erotic movements and entanglements that were like a pair of languid cats wrestling in balletic ecstasy.

You can feel the heat of Saigon, the slow and heavy flow of the Mekong river, and taste the racist undertones during the scenes where the Chinese lover’s hospitality and wealth is cynically and coldly abused by his lover’s aggressively dysfunctional family.

There is a fragmented, slightly random and cyclical nature to the book’s structure, and this is carried across successfully in the way the action takes place, with an older version of the girl narrating and looking on, and then also becoming the girl’s mother at times.

“I was fifteen and a half, there are no seasons in that part of the world, we have just the one season, hot, monotonous, we’re in the long hot girdle of the earth with no spring, no renewal.”

A hybrid performance

This is not quite drama, and not quite dance. It is a gorgeous hybrid, and it’s so refreshing, charged and beautiful to look at and listen to that you really wish it would go on longer.

But the story is beautifully told, and follows such a clear arc highlighted by the sparse set design, understated lighting, simple but perfect costumes and the sheer brilliance of all of the performers, that it would be simply greedy to ask for more.

Having said that, I could watch this again in an instant.

The programme is also worth the investment – it has a fascinating interview with the two Directors, along with a deeply interesting essay by Neil Cooper, theatre critic of The Herald.

4 stars

Click to book tickets for The Lover
Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Tickets from £10-£32
20 Jan – 3 Feb, Approximately 1 hours 25 minutes, no interval.
Matinees Wednesday & Saturday 2pm

Saturday 3 February, 4pm Sex and Colonialism
Featuring Janice Galloway & Richard Jobson (Skids)

The Lover, Lyceum Theatre




Plus +

  • Highly Erotic
  • Great Music
  • Fluid Dance

About David Petherick

David Petherick is the owner and publisher of edinburghfestival.org and was born in, and lives, in Edinburgh. He is a writer, marketer and tweeter and is also a LinkedIn Profile Doctor. Follow @edinburghfest for festival news and updates and @petherick for personal news and views.

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