Lars Norén, translated by Maja Zade
Royal Court Theatre Downstairs

This unusual modern reworking of the Oedipus myth by Swedish playwright, Lars Norén may start very slowly but after the first half hour, it becomes absolutely engrossing.

Eric and Rosa are a couple held together by a lacuna, the son that they have not seen for twenty years. They are an intellectual couple who left Chile for France after the first 9/11, the one when Pinochet came to power. They left behind their eight year old son.

In France, they support each other while never escaping their dark secret. Under apparent happiness, their relationship is sado-masochistic. They could easily have been created by Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean writer of Death and the Maiden, which explores a very similar theme.

Francesca Annis' deeply unhappy Rosa, tries to escape her destiny by becoming a war journalist. Eric (Nicholas Le Prevost) does the same as a therapist who needs his own help. He has also found a lover his son's age. He is a medical student and former patient, Luca, orphaned as a child and now HIV positive.

The unhappy trio are finally brought together in a bitterly tragic denouement as the truth comes out and proves unbearable to all.

James Macdonald, who did so much work with Sarah Kane, increases the tension with great skill and delivers remarkably original scenes of unhappy sexual encounters. The performances of both Miss Annis and Nicholas Le Prevost are moving.

The revelation is Tom Hardy as their son and lover, Luca. He was the star of Stephen Adly Guirgis' In Arabia We'd All be Kings at Hampstead earlier in the year. Now he turns in a tremendous performance as the fatally damaged Luca. Both as the dangerous but passionate lover and when coldly analysing his actions, he is wholly convincing.

This review originally appeared on Theatreworld in a slightly different version

Reviewer: Philip Fisher