A successful and internationally recognised architect, Jeremiasz Angust has returned to Paris, the city in which he once lived and worked, to deliver a lecture entitled The Perfect Building, reflecting on the change in the focus of his work following the personal crisis twenty years before which prompted his relocation, his work now focused on supporting public spaces such as hospitals rather than benefitting only the rich.
Ironic, then, that the airport terminal from which he is due to depart on his way home to Warsaw is of his own design, though he is late arriving, caught in traffic and stopped beside the stranded girl caught in her rain and unable to hail a taxi; also on her way to the airport, Jeremiasz charitably offers her a lift despite the inconvenience when they are forced to reroute to pick up her luggage.
Missing his flight because of the delay, while awaiting a later connection in the concourse Jeremiasz reviews work and his website, deleting negative comments which mar its perfection, and is surprised to see Texel who also missed her flight; wishing to be alone and already short on patience, he tries to politely deflect her, but she is determined to have his attention, threatening to cause a scene if he will not spend time with her, share a drink and listen to her confessions.
A largely faithful adaptation of Amélie Nothomb’s 2001 novel Cosmétique de l’ennemi with only one significant and entirely effective change, A Perfect Enemy is directed by Kike Maíllo from a script by Maíllo, Cristina Clemente and Fernando Navarro, principally a two hander between the normally assured but now disturbed Jeremiasz (Tomasz Kot) and the obsessive Texel (Athena Strates), with other characters seen only through Texel’s stories.
Imagined by Jeremiasz with the details of his own childhood until she forcefully points out they have led very different lives, Texel is a nightmare girl who has no regard for boundaries and claims she can kill with the power of her mind, possessed of an “inner enemy” which sabotages her attempts to be good, Jeremiasz’s initial disinterest and doubts shifting to the possibility that she could be truly dangerous, a perfect stranger become a perfect enemy.
A thriller so bare it could almost be presented on stage, all others such as the beautiful woman in the cemetery (Marta Nieto) peripheral or imagined, Strates gives a fully physical performance, grasping at everything and gulping down coffee and fries, while Kot is haunted and increasingly desperate, wishing to cleanse his conscience as easily as he washes his hands as the frightening parallels of Texel’s story and his own life two decades before indicate that their meeting in this setting was not by accident, unable to escape from the concrete mausoleum of his own design in which he is trapped with his tormentor.
A Perfect Enemy will be available on digital platforms from Monday 5th July