In case your relationship has been examined by a double-dose of lockdown, you is likely to be primed for the vicious cynicism about love and marriage Shanley’s black comedy unleashes.
It begins with informal cruelty at a reunion between two unlikely mates. Celeste (Heather Bloom) is an out-of-work actress with a limp. She confides to Natalie (Catherine Ward) that she’s having a violent, sadomasochistic affair to flee the disinterest of her stoner husband.
Natalie, an accountant, offers a callous evaluation of Celeste’s predicament, her tirade interrupted by the looks of a ghost. Even somebody as imply as Natalie, it appears, is haunted by misplaced love.
Natalie’s previous indiscretion is revealed in a claustrophobic scene of home frustration along with her husband Henry (Alexander Lloyd). He, in flip, seeks the recommendation of a divorce lawyer buddy (Hayden Burke), whose poisonous misogyny has led to a volcanic accumulation of resentment in his personal spouse (Clare Hayes).
And round it goes, in a manufacturing that generates schadenfreude on the sheer nastiness on show.
It has been staged 5 metres from the seating financial institution for COVID security, so it’s a superb factor the play’s invective is supercharged. And also you admire the gusto with which the go hammer and tongs at one another.
Whether or not these characters are requisitely humanised beneath the grotesque veneer – whether or not the play generates comedian catharsis, or simply exploits lurid human behaviour for leisure – is a special query.
Definitely, the performances are price watching. They’re heightened and horrible with out solely succumbing to caricature, and the tempo and modulation of the appearing has benefitted from a longer-than-usual rehearsal interval.
The space from the viewers and rudimentary set design, although, make each visible depth and a way of immersion an elusive prospect. Tearing down the fourth wall often labored effectively, and the manufacturing continues to be diverting.
However extra refined route – steering with larger agility between psychological realism and heightened excursions into the surreal – appears required to unlock the play’s full comedic potential.
Even so, the present’s flaws did nothing to decrease the sense of reduction and gratitude at being again inside a theatre.