The Bunker, London – until 3 February 2017
This world premiere production leaves the audience with more questions than answers and looks at the lengths people would go to for control. There is certainly a lot of freedom to explore the many different directions this intense, gripping but not straightforward play by Fiona Doyle.
Audiences are taken on a journey through the fractured relationship between nameless couple who meet on a trip to Berlin and see how their relationship develops and changes over time as their struggles as individuals begin to take over their relationship.
Flitting between the past and the present, Abigail reveals a couple who are deeply insecure, in particular Woman who on first meeting Man says that he reminds her of her father and as time goes on this initial thought seems to fester and grow into resentment for her, leading the audience to wonder if her relationship with her father was difficult and if so why?
This is just one of many questions that you are left asking and the problem is nothing is ever resolved, making the play seem directionless and unsatisfying. But there is no denying that it is well set up thanks to Joshua McTaggart’s focused and gripping direction, that makes the hour fly by, yet the lack of focus in the writing affects our ability to understand the characters fully and what happens to them.
Perhaps Fiona Doyle deliberately left the story obscure so that we could all take something different away from the play and come up with our own theories on the outcome but this obscurity is also frustrating and makes it seem unfinished. Many of the incidents that occur such as her losing the baby and Man struggling to breathe, lead to uncomfortable thoughts about what Woman is truly capable of.
However, Tia Bannon and Mark Rose’s performances are engaging enough to ensure that the audience is completely engaged with what is happening. Tia Bannon in particular as Woman, switches moods effectively from anger and being aggressive towards Man – even hitting him over the head with a glass bottle to being concerned about his welfare with ease and is disconcerting to watch. Meanwhile, Mark Rose as Man delivers a heartbreaking performance, as someone who has been broken down by Woman’s insecurities and need to be ‘saved’ but unable to leave.
It is certainly aggressive and tender in equal measures, showing two very different sides to love and how it can force us to confront our pasts.
Doyle’s writing is the main issue in the production. It throws so many different ideas and thoughts out that it is lacking in direction and feels unfinished. Yet Joshua McTaggert’s production is atmospheric, raw and intense, attempting to present the story in the best way possible. Work is still needed on the writing to make it feel like a complete play.