The problem with plays whose protagonists are engaged in a driven search for meaning is that this quest can become identified with the work itself, and so it proves here. The commanding focus of Suzanna Hamilton's performance is achieved in the teeth of the muddled psychology of Lucinda Coxon's script.
Vi's career as a maid in Richmond is cut short when she accidentally brains the young master in mid-shag, but she takes his place (coached by his ghost in the right gender/class mannerisms) in Canada as manager of a mine in dispute with the workers, whom she's subconsciously punishing because her native Welsh mining community ostracised her own father after he started believing he was Noah following a lucky escape from a pit explosion... Motifs leap up with the randomness of flying fish.
Polly Teale's direction is alert to the shifting script, but she can't fill in the gaps Coxon leaves (parallel to the above, but unintegrated with it, friend Su tends the deceased's mother – recovering from a stroke – by chatting to her in Welsh and reading her the adverts from the papers), and the four-semi-resolutions-at-once ending answers nothing and raises few articulated questions, but just plain furrows brows. Some strong performances (primarily Hamilton's) and intimations of power in the writing, but that power needs to be harnessed more assiduously.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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