Sunday, 9 December 2012

Mydidae - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Soho Theatre, London

Expectations are high for Bafta award-winning writer Jack Thorne’s new play at the Soho Theatre, and with previous works including television’s This is England and Skins; it’s easy to understand why. This time round he’s penned the story of a couple, set entirely in their bathroom. A bizarre setting, yes, but it’s one that works.  Riotously funny, savagely powerful, and with emotional U-bends that leave the audience gasping for air, Mydidae does not disappoint.

Photo: Simon Annand
The couple in question are Marian (Phoebe Walter-Bridge), a delightfully bizarre and bubbly creation whose outspokenness and confidence is only over-shadowed by her dreams of ‘masturbating grass people’, and David (Keir Charles), a more reserved and ever so slightly insecure character. Both are fantastically crafted characters; they expertly capture a relationship dynamic. At first it is slightly tricky to determine exactly how developed a couple they are; despite the familiarity between the two, there is a slight discomfort, and in fact much of the drama from this piece comes from understanding the cause of this.

Indeed, the real strength of this play lies in how the writing and acting combine to portray a foreboding tension. It becomes clear that beneath Marian’s bubbly mask is an unspoken sadness, a grief that Phoebe Walter-Bridge expertly lets seep to the surface and then suppresses in the blink of an eye. Equally Keir Charles manages to slip dark undertones into his portrayal of David that tantalisingly hint at revelations to come. Occasionally it does feel like the pair is playing to an audience larger than that of Soho Upstairs, but this is a minor gripe and overall the performances are very strong, and serve to magnify greatly both the humour and the hard-hitting drama of Jack Thorne’s writing.

Photo: Simon Annand
And yes, in this bathroom-based play there is a bath scene, and yes, there is full nudity. However, rather than being a clichéd stab at dramatic realism, the nudity amplifies the vulnerability of both characters, and helps to make this bath scene the most powerful and compelling of the play. The characters are exposed both physically and mentally, and as we see the fabric of their relationship unravel to reveal every thread, the result is unpredictable to say the least.

Unfortunately there were some slightly amiss sound cues; when compared to actual running water, a running water sound effect suddenly sounds rather fake, so the use of both clashed slightly. Although kudos indeed to the tech team who managed to bring a working bath and sink to the stage, impressive, it’s just a shame they outshone the sound so much.

A Bafta-winning writer, one bathroom, two characters, some impressive plumbing, and towels so white they’d put a Daz advert to shame; all components that blend together into an immensely watchable piece of theatre. So if you’re looking for something to wash away any excess Christmas spirit, or if you simply want to bathe in some fantastic new writing, Mydidae will most definitely do the trick.

This production runs until 22 December 2012

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