Following on from Purge, Sofi Oksanen’s exploration of the aftershocks of Soviet rule in Estonia, Studio Two at the Arcola Theatre gives us another U.S.S.R. based story: Leonid Zorin’s A Warsaw Melody, directed by Belka Production’s Oleg Mirochinov. The plays may have a political backdrop in common, but that’s very much where the similarities end.
Muscovite Viktor’s and Polish beauty Helya’s romance begins sitting side by side at a Chopin concert in the Soviet capital in 1947. Romance turns into love as the courtship – a rather alien concept now! – progresses. Their dream of marriage is smashed with an Iron Fist as a law is passed preventing Soviets to marry foreigners.
Oliver King and Emily Tucker make a loveable and believable couple. Tucker has the poise of a dancer, a pretty voice and maintains her sprightly energy for the duration. Centre stage is very much hers – as it is Helya’s in the relationship. King plays second in command humbly but with no less skill or intensity. The couple’s chemistry continues through the scene changes, carried out very much in character.
If you’re a born Romantic or a passionate soul you’ll adore its heart warming first half and be moved to sobs by its heart wrenching second half, which is half as long but even more powerful. Don’t come expecting riotous action or a thriller plot. Slow and gentle, A Warsaw Melody is beautiful for its simplicity and for painting love in real terms: it is hard to come by and even harder to hold on to.
Until 28 April. Tickets available from the Arcola.