CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: Two Ladies, at Bridge Theatre

Colourful and intriguing dialogue – and parallels with Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump – as Zoë Wanamaker and Zrinka Cvitešić star as politicians' wives sharing their stories

10 October, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Zoë Wanamaker as Helen in Two Ladies. Photo: Helen Maybanks

STUMBLING into a conference room during an eventful political summit in the south of France, Two Ladies focuses on the French president’s cougar wife Helen and the time she spends with US first lady Sophia, a younger, glamorous eastern European.

The parallels between Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump are obvious. In this instance Helen is a British journalist and Sophia is Croatian, but they even look like the originals, particularly Zrinka Cvitešić’s tall, graceful Sophia.

Writer Nancy Harris has created some interesting dialogue as the two women share their stories, but the plot itself descends into melodrama, in which seemingly sensible people behave very oddly indeed.

Zrinka Cvitešić as Sophia in Two Ladies. Photo: Helen Maybanks

It’s astonishing that Helen wouldn’t at least check in with her husband, rather than believe what is essentially hearsay – and all the skulking about with poison perfume begins to feel like a preposterous plot from a James Bond film.

For someone who believes herself to be so wise, it becomes apparent that Helen (Zoë Wanamaker) can be manipulated fairly easily. Everything she is told could potentially be untrue and yet she’s so quick to doubt her husband.

Although the scenario is implausible, the conversations between the pair are colourful and intriguing.

A harrowing highlight comes when Sophia describes an assault she endured when she was a teenager – at that moment, Cvitešić has the entire audience gripped.

And, of course, Wanamaker brings charm and wit to flaky Helen.

Their characterisation is flawless, but how the story progresses is out of their capable hands.

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