Staged in three parts, Oleanna centres round a student and teacher and the relationship between them. What initially seems like a very confused interchange between the student, Carol, and the professor, John, mutates over the course of the play into a fierce battle of interpretation.
The basic plot is that Carol comes to John in fear of failing her class and the ensuing interchange results in sexual harassment, the results of which are dealt with over the remainder of the piece. Based around empathy and misunderstanding, David Mamet’s script is deliberately polarising and antagonistic and yet the topic seems to have lost prevalence to its heyday of the mid 80s and 90s.
This is Schadenfreude Productions first foray at the Fringe and they have managed to craft a very confident and ambiguous take on a play, which easily could have been used to attack feminism – you can come away from this endlessly contesting who was in the right or the wrong.
The cast of two, unsupported for an hour, hold your attention, and what initially seemed like confusion, is brought together as the character of Carol emerges to confront the John’s pedantic sophist.
Pared down and well acted, this production never loses its audience and is thoroughly engaging and provoking. An excellent debut that builds to a startling end.