Fringe Box



Preview: Duet for One – Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 27 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 30 Oct, 2012

Haydyn Gwynne as Stephanie Abraham – Photo David Johnson

The Yvonne Arnaud has put on some fantastic and varied plays this autumn and the quality shows no signs of waning. The next show to be performed is Tom Kempinski’s ‘A Duet for One.’

Starring William Gaunt and Haydn Gwynne, the play describes the devastating impact of a multiple sclerosis diagnosis on a successful concert violinist, Stephanie Abraham. It portrays an incredibly difficult journey, as Stephanie learns that she must try to come to terms with the fact she will lose the thing she loves doing the most, forever.

Such a story of human triumph over physical disability could not be more relevant, after the summers stirring events at the Paralympic Games. Director Robin Herford was very aware of this as he worked on the performance.

He said: “Preparing for Duet for One during this Olympic summer has made me very aware of the sacrifices and dedication required of anyone competing at the highest level of any activity. But actually rehearsing the play while the amazing Paralympic Games were in full swing has brought a fresh appreciation of what so many people have to deal with in the way of setbacks – traumas, accidents, unexpected diagnoses and all the other obstacles to fulfilling their dreams. To what extent can determination and positivity conquer everything.”

Haydn Gwynne, fresh from her multi-award-winning role in Billy Elliott the Musical and recently returned from New York, where she earned rave reviews playing Queen Elizabeth opposite Kevin Spacey’s Richard III, prepared for the challenging role of Stephanie Abrahams by talking with MS sufferers, health workers and classical violinists.

William Gaunt as Dr Feldmann – Photo David Johnson

“The play”, she said: “makes it clear that becoming a world-class performer isn’t simply about talent – it’s a difficult journey that requires immense emotional and physical investment. Stephanie’s will is fierce… Fun to play, but scary too.”

William Gaunt, who plays her psychiatrist, Dr Feldmann, has recently starred in Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and played the title role in Rufus Stone (Best Film, Rhode Island Festival 2012.

To prepare for this role, he immersed himself in the field of talking therapies, and drew on his many years of theatrical experience to tackle the challenging role of being such a learned professional. Having seen the play before, in times when people with disabilities had much less support and understanding, he is enthusiastic about the changes that have come about since two decades ago when the play was first written.

He said: “Haydn is more mobile on stage than I am because of her state-of-the-art motorised wheelchair – not exactly the racing wheelchairs we’re now so familiar with, but fast, nonetheless. When the play was originally produced, seeing someone in a wheelchair was a novelty. Now, thanks to the Paralympics, it’s something people can readily relate to.”

The play will run from the 5th – 10th November. To find out more or book tickets, go to:

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