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Big and Small

Barbican Theatre, London EC3

    It is fair to say that the draw here is Cate Blanchett and not, for all his reputation as one of Germany's most respected living dramatists, Botho Strauss. That is unless semi-absurdist German drama from the Cold War era has suddenly become box-office gold.

    In Martin Crimp's updated translation of Strauss's 1978 play - staged by the Sydney Theatre Company - Blanchett plays Lotte, a woman about whom we learn little beyond the fact that her egotistical husband Paul has left her.

    Strauss is as interested in imagery as he is in story-telling, his narrative more a series of snapshots than an unfolding plot. It is a form well understood by director Benedict Andrews and designer Johannes Schultz, who set the action on a dark stage of seemingly infinite depth.

    In truth, Lotte represents an old-fashioned idea of how a woman copes with rejection - made even more so by Crimp's updated setting.

    Still, Blanchett gives a performance of such wit and vulnerability, proving she can command a stage as convincingly as she does the screen, that she makes the production a must-see. (www.barbican.org.uk)

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