Traverse Theatre (Venue 15), Edinburgh – until 27 August 2017
Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Meet Me At Dawn, a new play by Zinnie Harris presented by the EIF at the Traverse, is a sombre but beautifully open-hearted depiction of love, loss and regret.
Two women find themselves shipwrecked on an island, which quickly proves to be more mysterious than it first appears. Harris’s script is elusive but profoundly emotional, with echoes of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
From the outset, Harris paints a picture of an utterly convincing relationship, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Helen) and Neve McIntosh (Robin) do it more than justice. Tiny domestic details are the most telling in setting the scene for a depiction of how loss can be almost unhinging.
These details are reinforced by Orla O’Loughlin’s beautifully limpid direction. Fred Meller’s monolithic promontory of a set and Simon Wilkinson’s exacting lighting provide slabs of light and darkness, mirroring the shards of dark emotions that hark back to myths that deal with some of our darkest fears – that we will lose those closest to us. Such fears are made no more palatable by the knowledge that everyone will face them eventually.
This is an uneasy length for a play. Perhaps because it is in the official Festival rather than the Fringe, it is longer than the Traverse’s customary hour, yet it is well short of a two-act play with interval.
Those extra minutes are a problem – when the situation has been established, there is a point when it is treading water. This might be an issue with performers less compelling than Duncan-Brewster and McIntosh or less perfectly paced direction, but here is hardly noticeable.
The subject matter may sound forbidding, but the end result, while never sentimental or conventionally ‘uplifting’, has a power that reminds us warmly of why we love, and of why we put ourselves in such situations in the first place, even knowing it will all end one day.
Running time 1 hour 25 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED (Venue 15)
Part of the Edinburgh International Festival
Saturday 5 – Sunday 27 August 2017
Daily (not Mondays)
Times vary, see website for details
Book tickets on the EIF website: https://www.eif.co.uk/2017/dawn
Traverse website: https://www.traverse.co.uk
Twitter: @traversetheatre, @edintfest
Facebook: @TraverseTheatre, @EdintFest
The script is available to buy from Amazon. Click on the image below for details: