Theatre Review - 'Knot of the Heart'

Posted by Alexander Hay

The pain and heartache of drug addiction is powerfully explored by David Eldridge in his new play

The drugs don't work in Knot of the Heart

The story focuses on Lucy, an attractive and successful young woman enjoying a burgeoning career as the presenter of a TV children’s show. But her social drug habit has developed into a hard drug addiction, casting a dark shadow over her happiness, and she is forced to quit her job when she is discovered smoking heroin in her dressing-room.

As her charmed life begins to slip away Lucy realises that the devoted support of her family does not come without a price. After lapsing into a state of helpless dependence, she finally goes into rehab at a crisis intervention centre. 

But the rocky road to recovery not only becomes a test of Lucy’s resilience, it also forces the family to confront long-buried secrets. Eldridge here provides a meticulously researched and moving insight into just what addiction entails but refuses to take a judgemental approach. 

His protagonist is seen as a flawed but sympathetic individual – she is self-deceiving and a shameless exploiter of her mother’s private wealth but also someone who eventually sees that her only hope is to try and make a recovery and she is not afraid of shying away from the truth. 

Instead when she confesses “I have broken my own heart and I will never be able to mend it” she strikes an emotional chord in the audience.

Michael Attenborough’s stylish and engrossing production, staged on a revolving set of glass and wood, successfully draws us into Lucy’s tormented world and it is not afraid to underline the brutal fact that we are all alone in life and have no one but ourselves to rely on.

The part of Lucy was specifically written for Lisa Dillon and she fully rises to the challenge, giving an outstanding performance as the golden girl initially unable to halt her headlong decline. Thin, angry and self-justifying, she is someone who will stop at nothing to feed her addiction until the inevitable breaking point. 

Margot Leicester also impresses as her desperate, driven and deluded mother, a woman haunted by guilt who passively aids her daughter in her terrible habit by holding the lighter, while Abigail Cruttenden fully convinces as Lucy’s older, embittered lawyer sister Angela.

This may not be an easy watch but it certainly provides a memorable evening in the theatre.

Runs until April 30 at the Almeida Theatre

Box office: 0207 359 4404

Press: Janine Shalom at Premier PR 0207 292 8330

By Laurence Green

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Alexander Hay

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