theSpace on the Mile, Edinburgh – until 26 August 2016
Reviewer: Hugh Simpson
There is no shortage of talent or effort in I Am Yours, presented by Thin Line and New Celts at theSpace on the Mile, but some odd choices and uncertain casting make for an uneven production.
In Canadian Judith Thompson’s play, first performed in 1987, the central figure is Dee, a deeply troubled woman who becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with Toilane, the janitor in her building. The various characters have different levels of need and obsession, and at times the text descends into melodrama. In order to convince, it needs a degree of control that is largely absent, despite the best efforts of the cast.
The trouble with Thompson’s characters is that not only are they dislikeable, their motives are very difficult to divine, and it becomes something of a chore to remain invested in their fates. Cait Irvine’s Dee is a committed performance, and manages to be convincing. Toilane is vulnerable and childlike, yet obviously capable of an almost pathological hatred and violence to anything he does not understand, with Andrew Johns Cameron having a creditable attempt at the character.
There has to be a suspicion that the other roles are miscast. Conor Mainwaring plays several parts; he is impressive as Dee’s estranged husband Mack, with a suitably puzzled air, but as her sister Mercy’s fantasy-figure older lover he does not convince.
Hana Mackenzie, meanwhile, gives a vibrant performance as Mercy that is very good on its own terms but does not quite work in the context of the play. Danielle Hogg, as Toilane’s mother Pegs, turns in the kind of ‘comedy old person’ role that often happens in student productions. It is undoubtedly funny, but does not fit either the age or the personality of the character, and crucial dramatic impetus is lost in the play’s second half as a result.
There are definitely interesting things about mental illness, co-dependence and class in here, but they are largely hidden in what becomes an uneasy mix of soap opera and sitcom, veering between the stilted and the overly broad. The undoubted impression is that director Catherine Exposito and the cast have talent but have ended up with the wrong play.
Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39), 80 High Street, EH1 1TH
Saturday 6 – Friday 26 August 2016.
Even dates only: 4.30 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/i-am-yours