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The Promise

The Star, 8th October 1970

“The Promise” is a play about three teenagers forced to become adults in the space of a few bomb drops in the centre of war-wrecked Leningrad.

The girl, Lika, daughter of a doctor and previously cared for by a family retainer, finds herself alone and having to fend for herself in someone else’s flat.

Two 17-year-old boys join her and create the inevitable emotional triangle.

The author of the play, Aleksei Arbuzov, is well qualified to write about the terrors and trials of living alone in a war-torn Russia. An orphan, born in 1908, he went on the stage at the age of 14 and was running a mobile theatre group by the time he was 20.

All the material is there – but the actors themselves do not give the depth that the performance deserves.

Patricia Franklin as Lika maintains an annoying squeaky voice throughout the play which does not seem to suit a young woman who finally makes it as a doctor.

But Michael Pennington as Leonidik, who loses his arm in the wars, marries Lika, and finally leaves her in Marat’s arms (metaphorically), gives a warm and moving performance.

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