Friday, 21 June 2013

15 Second Review: In Treatment (seasons 1-3)

Based on the Israeli series Be Tipul, In Treatment is a small scale drama series in the best sense. In contrast to the “blockbuster TV” it sits alongside, In Treatment is constituted by 25 minute episodes that feature two people in an analyst’s office, talking. The scripts are naked: there are no gimmicks, and little action. Perhaps due to the immense pressure of this set-up, the writing is also lean and precise. The staging is so stripped down that the actors have nowhere to hide. Luckily, the acting is first-rate. Gabriel Byrne is particularly strong as the therapist, Paul. The series is based around one session per episode (four per week) and a fifth session in which Paul himself undergoes therapy. This structure presents Byrne with the challenge of playing Paul both as an astute therapist in the sessions he runs, and also as an arrogant, paranoid and aggressive being when he undergoes treatment. The device not only allows Byrne to flex his performative muscles, but also adds an extra dimension to the scripts. During his sessions, Paul utilises all that he has heard as an apparatus via which to articulate deep-seated issues. As the series progresses, the layers of dramatic irony build. Thus, the dialogue is akin to great jazz: the silences matter just as much as the ‘notes that are heard’. Be warned: although the episodes are short bursts, they are frequently both emotionally draining and intellectually demanding.

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