It's a slick, short piece over three acts that never loses your attention. That's mainly because of the fine performances by the two leads, both heralding from the Royal Shakespeare Company(RSC)
RSC giant Jonathan Slinger plays the arrogant college professor whose interactions with Rosie Sheehy's nervy female student turns his life around when she files a complaint. Sheehy was magnificent in the title role of King John for the RSC a few years ago and is on form again in this drama, developing her character with such depth that the finale is a revelation.
Jonathan Slinger and Rosie Sheehy are excellent on stage
Set on an American campus, it's strange to hear Slinger, one of the best Shakespearean actors of his generation, with a US twang, but he does it with a natural elegance and the accent never falters.
Director Lucy Bailey maintains the tension beautifully and leaves an ambiguity that allows plenty of room for discussion as neither of the characters come out of it well.
Over a series of meetings, the detailed discussions intelligently build up to a fascinating dilemma. The emotion feels very raw and there's a genuineness that makes you feel as though you are eavesdropping on a real conversation.
It's refreshing to see something that isn't clear cut and the underlying themes challenge the audience to consider the dynamics of power and manipulation. It asks us to question at what point boundaries are overstepped and can the words we use be as damaging as hitting out physically.
Oleanna is everything that I've missed about theatre. It's thought-provoking, enthralling and intelligent drama with two actors at the top of their game. You'd be a fool to miss it.