Terri Paddock chaired a post-show talk with cast and creatives of James Mannion's new play Mites at London's Tristan Bates Theatre

Q&A video: What would Ionesco & Sally Challen think of absurdist drama Mites?

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A philosophising cat, a famished dog and a family of mites all make appearances – and strong impressions – in Mites, a new play by up-and-coming young British playwright James Mannion, written in the best traditions of the Theatre of the Absurd.

In Mites, Ruth, a lonely woman abandoned by her husband, lives in isolation with her beloved cat Bartholomew. When she’s visited by a pest controller named Ken, who’s come to rid her infestation of the titular creatures, she becomes convinced he’s her unfaithful husband Kenneth returned. As she – and we – become more confused, the three-hander becomes a twisting battle of manipulation, deception and domination. And things get very dark indeed!

I’m no expert on absurdism, but I’m confident Eugene Ionesco would have been pleased by the fleeting rhinoceros reference here, as well as the multi-roling three-strong cast’s various feline, canine and insect characterisations. Is any of this real? Is it all in Ruth’s mind? Who is perpetrator versus victim? Where does power lie?

In addition to Ionesco, while watching Mites, I couldn’t stop thinking about the case of Sally Challen, which made headlines and judicial precedent earlier this year. After years of abuse and adultery, in 2010, Challen murdered her husband Richard, for which she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2017, Justice for Women launched a campaign and grounds for appeal on her behalf, highlighting new psychiatric evidence about coercive control and diminished responsibility. This past June, after a high-profile court case, her plea was converted to manslaughter and she was released after nine years and four months based on time already served. Can you understand how someone could be pushed to that point of provocation?

After the performance, I discussed this with director and Blueleaf Theatre founder Marcus Marsh, producer Rebecca Lyle and cast members Richard Henderson, Claire Marie Hall and George Howard. Watch and share the full post-show talk below.

Mites runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower St, London, WC2H 9NP until 26 October 2019, with performances Mondays to Saturdays 7.45pm, matinees Saturdays 2.30pm. Tickets are priced from £12. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!

Q&A video

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Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs MyTheatreGroup, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.
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Terri Paddock on FacebookTerri Paddock on InstagramTerri Paddock on LinkedinTerri Paddock on TwitterTerri Paddock on Youtube
Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs MyTheatreGroup, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.

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