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The Captive | Golden Goose Theatre

The Captive, written by Édouard Bourdet in the 1920s, and adapted and directed by Rae Morris, is a quietly powerful play about the struggles of forbidden and unrequited love, against the backdrop of the time period. Advertised as one of Broadway's first plays with a lesbian character, the complexities of the internal versus external comes through clearly, dominating the lives of four entangled characters. 

When Irene (Lily-Rose Morris-Zumin) is being forced to leave behind her lover, she turns to childhood friend Jacques (Jack Medlin) for help. In spite of his unrequited love for her, he attempts to help her whilst also uncovering her secret, which makes for a high stakes and scintillating play. Additionally, Jacques' secret mistress Francoise (Fuschia Webb) and old friend M. D’Aguines (Theo Collins) bring their own set of complications, and provide both obstacles and moments of revelation.


The Captive is a constantly gripping play that carefully provides insight into queer relationships at the time. Without really going into the relationship itself, the play prefers to explore the lasting effects and impact it has on those around them and the larger society. Despite Irene being the first and last character we see, and truthfully the main character, The Captive explores her relationship through Jacques' perspective, further echoing and silencing her truth. 

Presented as a series of conversations, with characters entering and exiting Jacques' life in a revolving door manner, they are woven together by his pursuit of the truth of Irene's secrets. Both confronting and being interrogated by the other three characters, the constant change and imbalance of power dynamics are the show's greatest strength. Each conversation is stimulating, particularly so in the first act, with the truth just out of reach.

The various dynamics and almost suffocating speed in which new layers and information are presented to the audience helps us feel the overwhelming sense that Jacques does. With no time to gauge and process, the momentum builds and explodes with a dramatic act one finale that utterly throws the show in a new direction. 

The four performers each shine in their own right. Morris-Zumin carries the simultaneous hope and shame with her, wearing her anguish for all to feel. With a fierce determination, she plays Irene's desperation and fears well through her hysterical outbursts and silent bravery. Medlin does a commendable job at slowly warming up from being quiet and curious, to explosive and then experiencing defeated resignation. Powering his way through the many conversations, he grounds the play together. Webb delivers a more mature performance as Francoise, allowing the audience a glimpse into the fear, pain and love that shimmers beneath her cool and rigid exterior. Collins manages to effortlessly rattle spirits and muster laughter from the audience in his limited stage time. 

The set design is simple, with wooden chairs, a coat stand and rug to furnish Jacques' or Irene's home. Sound and light design comes from Toby Ison, with the use of an eerie colder blue lighting accompanied with a melancholy music for moments of solitude for Irene, and a warm douse of yellow lighting for Jaques, further reflecting the stability and safety of both characters.

A genius piece of writing that still remains relevant and fresh in this day, with witty lines and emotionally fuelled punchy arguments, The Captive is a truly captivating play which has been exemplary directed by Rae Morris.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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