Festival Review 2019: Gertrude Stein and Companion

FESTIVAL REVIEW: “Gertrude Stein and Companion”, Teachers Club

Win Wells has the wit and artistry of two strong iconic women to harvest in her play.

Gottaluvit productions from South Africa with their well cast and directed production ensure a bountiful harvest. Set in Paris and remarkably not dealing with how these two Jewish lesbian artists survived Nazi occupation in real life, they play goes beyond the obvious and loving core relationship to deal with ageing, legacy and family. It’s a beautiful piece of theatre. Shirley Johnson (Gertrude) and Lynita Crofford (Alice) are highly skilled interpreters of these complex women. Lesbians are as a norm, erased from discourse and memory – hence Alice B Toklas being confined to the role of “companion”. But she was so much more and the similarities in her role and that of Robbie Ross in preserving Oscar Wilde’s legacy are striking. Tolkas is the reason we know Stein today. Dead is dead said Stein but here it is her beginning. There is a clear warmth and intimacy in the dignified structure of their lifelong relationship. Love wins and that’s never in question despite the disapproval of others. With an art collection to die for, a friendship with Picasso to comfort and an ambition to publish at all costs, this award winning production, sensitively directed by Christopher Weare engages from the start. It’s a warm and tender story, set in separation, that proves the enduring bond of love. The rich text beautifully conveyed by this well cast duo guaranteed a real theatrical treat. Go see it.


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