Emotions laid bare in stripped back production

Mydidae – Trafalgar Studios, booking until 30 March 2013

Arriving at the Trafalgar Studios you may unwittingly feel that you have walked into the wrong venue given the amount of signage for what appears to be a rather bombastic Macbeth with a certain Mr McAvoy seeming to dominate events.

Take closer order and you will discover that their intimate studio space is currently playing host to a drama that packs an equally shocking emotional punch. However it is one that sets aside the grandiose Shakespearian Keir Charles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Mydidae, Soho Theatre, 5 December 2012 (courtesy of Simon Annand) 16tragedy and instead hits you unaware from its home within a destabilising, and ultimately disturbing, modern naturalism.

Jack Thorne is a very promising writer, whose previous credits have included co-writing Greenland for the National and adapting The Physicists at the Donmar. In Mydidae, Thorne demonstrates the knack of not just writing well-crafted naturalistic dialogue but also developing concepts where a surface simplicity artfully hides unexpectedly complex depths.

Setting a play in a bathroom is such an obviously winning idea that it begs the question why it hasn’t been explored to this level of precision before. Playwrights are constantly searching for new ways to shine a light onto the way people relate to each other and the bathroom as a location is one that throws up intriguing questions about the public/private nature of the space and the contested and malleable boundaries that are placed upon it.

Throughout the play this question of boundaries keeps reoccurring. We see the boundaries of David’s job constantly shift into the private. The boundaries of their relationship are seen to constantly dissolve and reform. The balance of power is a contested space between them and even the audience is challenged on the assumptions it makes.

It is telling that one of the opening images of the play is the invasion of Marion’s private world by David’s very public phone conversation. In the technologically connected modern world the public persona blurs the boundaries of what was traditionally accepted to be the private.

A person can no longer easily control their own private space outside of what exists internally. However Thorne shows how this world of connectedness does not necessarily lead to more openness. Whilst Marion and David believe they have shared everything, they have in fact used sharing as a mechanism for locking away what most needs communicating.

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