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A CurtainUp London London Review
Love, Question Mark

Men don't pay for sex. They pay you to go away afterwards. — Maria
Love, Question Mark
Clare Cameron
(Photo: Richard Davenport)
There is a brand new 80 seat theatre in London's Euston/Kings Cross area which will give London another fringe venue for incoming productions. The New Diorama Theatre on the ground floor of a new leisure and restaurant block, replaces a previous Diorama which got in the way of property development. The first show from Nightwork Productions is an analysis of love and sex. Written and directed by Robert Gillespie, Love, Question Mark is a lively two hander on one man's search for companionship and sex after the death of his wife.

Widower Michael Smith (Stuart Sessions) has ventured forth into the dating world. Unusually rejecting the single middle aged women of the Home Counties, he has recruited from the slums of Argentina, Maria (Clare Cameron), a fiery young girl with a colourful past. In between the story of this unlikely couple are digressions on the history and philosophy of love and sex, much of it didactic and delivered by Stuart Sessions as if it were an information session, but interesting for all that and providing a necessary break from the heat of the relationship.

Michael Smith explains the whys and wherefores of his decision to become sexually active and the mechanism of finding Maria, a dark skinned beauty who frowning, looks angry or it might be puzzled as she struggles to grasp the meaning of Michael's words. The most interesting aspect of this production is the description of Maria's harrowing life — one of many children, raped as a child and then sold to a man as a sex slave. She lives later as a prostitute.

Stuart Sessions in his beige sweater looks not unlike the young Richard Briers and has the same kind of diffident and apologetic manner. Clare Cameron seethes and sizzles as the tempestuous Maria. As they discuss their experience of sex and erotic literature there are interludes of violent sub dom games with Maria in charge.

We watch the marital drama unfold as Maria tries to break free from Michael and he is nervous of allowing this independent spirit out on her own. There is a resolution which is unexpected and I shall not reveal.

Mamoru Iriguchi and Polly Bennett's simple design is a screen with black with red flowers and a couple of chairs. Later Maria wears a frock in the same strong red and black print. The audience are raked above the playing area.

The new theatre is a welcome addition to London's theatre scene. Though it has already recruited the well established Quicksilver Theatre company who have been making theatre for children for thirty years, it will take time to reach its audience.

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Love, Question Mark
Written andf directed by Robert Gillespie

With: Stuart Sessions and Clare Cameron
Design: Mamoru Iriguchi and Maria Garcia
Choreographer: Polly Bennett
Lighting Designer: Neil E Hobbs
Sound: Edward Lewis
Running time: One hour 45 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0844 2090 344
Booking to 1st May 2010
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 9th April 2010 performances at the New Diorama, 15-16 Triton Place, Regents Place, London NW1 3BF (Tube: Warren Street or Great Portland Street)

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