‘No Ashes, No Coal’ at the Rondo Theatre, Larkhall

As music is played on a gramophone, an old lady sits; this is what’s left of Sabina Spielrein, the first woman psychoanalyst.

This is a one woman show based on the life of Sabina Spielrein whose name has almost been wiped from history. Sabina tells the audience the story of her life, from her beatings by her father, her one true love, Carl Gustav Jung, to Sigmund Freud, who helped to cure her.

Sabina’s recanting can at times be shocking, witty and very emotional. Both Rosamund Harwood and the audience left the theatre feeling emotionally drained.

Rosamund Harwood has previously won the Hammond Prize for Acting and you can see why. Rosamund kept the audience gripped for an hour and 20 minutes which is admirable. She used pauses well, where she showed her character’s otherwise controlled emotions escaping, and varying the tone and pace of her voice. Her use of repetition of particular phrases meant the audience were always reminded of previous stories she had told.

Graham Billing, who was commissioned to write this play, shows a great knowledge of Sabina’s life and of languages. He often uses German or Russian phrases to show Sabina’s struggle to translate into English.

Rosamund’s interaction with the audience makes them feel a part of the story and heightens their sympathy for Sabina.

This play, although set in the 1940s, is very relevant today.

Sabina’s descriptions of her beatings as a child would perhaps make the sceptics of the anti-smacking ban change their minds.