A continuation of Thomas Mann’s classic novella Death In Venice, this new play is co-directed by its author, Bern Bowers.

Despite the intriguing central concept, the talented cast struggle manfully with the stilted and overlong script: Tom Rooke has a huge challenge as immature and irritating Adzio. Once the beautiful boy who basked in the glow of the famous author’s attention, as an adult he has grown petulant and neurotic, encouraged in his constant self-examination by his appointments with the Freud-like Dr Friedman (Keith Drinkel).

Leonard Sillevis makes a refreshing change playing Fabrizio, Thomas Mann’s former protégé: holding back, pausing and conveying doubt and uncertainty through his body language. Tessa Cushan also speaks beautifully as Adzio’s concerned wife Izabella.

The Purple Playhouse is a hidden gem, an intimate performance space where the simple set, sound and lighting easily convey dream sequences and the crossing of continents. At this performance, one audience member was so moved that she gasped with shock and burst into tears.

Unfortunately, the wordy drama gives endless text rather than subtext: telling everything onstage rather than simply showing, with extra narration spelling out the protagonist’s journey and feelings – while failing to make the most of Mahler’s music.