Martin Crimp: The Treatment, Almeida Theatre, London (Director: Lyndsey Turner)
By Sascha Krieger
A woman tells her story to a couple (a married one, by the way) of film producers. They are interested, but see room for clarification here, a little tightening of the story there. More people come on board, a writer, the film’s potential star, everyone with their own agenda, their own desire to control the story. So the woman loses hers and she won’t be the only one. Trying to regain control, she gives it up completely. This, admittedly, is a rather rough summary of Martin Crimp’s play The Treatment, an ambivalent title, of course, primarily referring to the term the film industry gives a short project summary used to pitch it, but also evoking the treatment reality and those who live it receive at the hands of a machine that cares about box office numbers and little else. Reality has a difficult position in this play which – while starting out in the false security of a realistic scene – soon drifts off. Into the abstract, the metatheatrical, the thriller and horror spaces. The way people lose control over there lives, the way outside forces appear and take over, the slow building up of a threatening, claustrophobic, stifling atmosphere are reminiscent of the plays of Harold Pinter, even though, unlike in the works of the Nobel Laureate, there is a distinct and recognisable reality The Treatment plays off.