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Review: The Curing Room at the Pleasance Theatre, London

It is the tale of a group of Russian solidiers stripped naked and left locked up in the curing room of an old monastry in Poland during the final throws of the Second World War. They are there for weeks.

Their nakedness is an impracticality - they are always cold - rather than a social awkwardness or rather any shred of that quickly dies away and is forgotten. Water comes from precious drops of condensation on the stone in the morning. For food, well the unimaginable becomes a reality when desperation leaves little choice.

Despite the gruesome subject matter, which is a little stomach churning at times and perhaps not for the squeamish, the moral dilemma about what they are doing seems less interesting and indeed relevant than that of the conflict between the different classes and cultures within the group. Faced with starvation or eating human flesh there seems little choice and the argument against immediately feels like one that is lost.

It is claustrophic and tense situation for the men but the relationship between the group never felt quite as heightened as it could have. The script is occasionally clunky and the characters a little under developed which probably didn't help.

At the end of the Curing Room I was more curious about what happened to the survivors and how they were treated by their rescuers and society knowing what they'd done to survive. Perhaps that should be the companion piece?

The Curing Room is an intriguing premise that doesn't feel fully exploited. It is executed well, if you'll forgive the term, but doesn't fully engage.

You can catch it at the Pleasance Theatre, London until Nov 9