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A Warsaw Melody at the Arcola

Warsawmelody_2187109bThe Arcola's small studio space has hosted a number of interesting plays from foreign playwrights in recent months and A Warsaw Melody continues that trend.

Written by Russian playwright Leonid Zorin it is a love story following Russian wine-making student Victor (Oliver King) and Polish singing student Helya's (Emily Tucker) relationship over two decades.

It's not a straightforward romance, it would be a surprise if it was. Set initially in Moscow just after the second world war much of the first half is taken up with the blossoming relationship between the two students. It is a joy to watch as the two get to know each other, testing the ground, discovering likes and dislikes and what makes each other tick. But politics get in the way. The second half then covers the next 20 years and the fall out. 

It is a well done and interesting two-hander, history and politics always lurking in the background. Tucker is particularly good, dazzling almost to the point where it starts to feel like her story rather than Victor's.

A Warsaw Melody isn't going to be the most memorable play I've seen at the Arcola this year, it doesn't quite pull on the heart strings as much as the subject matter suggests it should. And, I confess that there were times when my mind wandered a little. But it is nonetheless an interesting and warm piece and refreshing to see a different Russian playwright.

I'm going to give it three and a half stars. It runs at the Arcola until 28 April.