Duet for one at Birmingham Rep

by Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour

Duet for One at Birmingham Rep

Duet for One is a two person play by Tom Kempinski about a world class violinist Stephanie, who has had her career cut short due to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Stephanie visits a psychiatrist Dr Feldmann’s office on many occasions, the play is set entirely in the Doctor’s office.

The play explores the themes you would expect a psychiatrist talk about from depression, anxiety to suicidal thoughts.

Belinda Lang and Oliver Cotton in Duet for One photo by Robert Day
Belinda Lang and Oliver Cotton in Duet for One photo by Robert Day

Belinda Lang stars as Stephanie and she is excellent as this angry, hurt, confused and slightly lost but hugely talented woman, who is struggling to comprehend the changes in her life. On the surface Stephanie is holding things together but we see that this isn’t really the case.

Oliver Cotton smoothly demonstrates his acting skills as Dr Feldmann, who loves music and has been sent Stephanie by her equally world composing husband.

There are huge monologues within this two-hander which come out as streams of humour, anger, joy and pain. It’s 2 hours and 10 minutes that race on by. I was initially worried it would be one long scene. My concerns were put aside as we time jumped through meetings to different days and different stages of Stephanie’s visits.

Oliver Cotton in Duet for One photo by Robert Day
Oliver Cotton in Duet for One photo by Robert Day

This is a play with only passing moments that may date it to being a 40-year old play, but there is very little to tell you how old the characters are really supposed to be. The themes involved can affect people of any ages.

The set is dressed with many CDs, books and records that seemingly go untouched, but are really there to demonstrate the room of this psychiatrist and his intelligence and passion for music. Two of the chairs go unused, as does the filing cabinet at the entrance. This detail adds to the authenticity but the play almost could be in an empty room with just the two talking.

There were lots of flashes of humour throughout this play, and having seen Belinda Lang on tv in many sit-coms over the years you expect her to be even more humorous. I’ve not seen her in many serious roles before and it was a great experience to have.

Duet for One is on at the Birmingham Rep until Saturday 7th October and is well worth seeing, a slight content warning for strong language means its not suitable for younger/family audiences.

Take a look at the Birmingham Rep website here and book your tickets: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/duet-for-one

#BrumHour was invited to see Duet for One by Birmingham Rep for reviewing purposes, this isn’t a sponsored post.