Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Tragic beauty

At Company of Sirens

Bash , Chapter , June 28, 2016
At Company of Sirens by Bash Neil LaBute is an American film director, screenwriter, playwright and actor. He is well remembered for his first film based on a play he wrote, In the Company of Men, which won awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle. Bash, is a collection of three stunning one-act plays that mark LaButeís return to the New York stage after ten years. Director Chris Durnall has brought two of the plays to Wales presenting them in an interleaving way that exquisitely strengthens the beauty and poignancy of both plays.

In Medea Redux a young women, played with a profound and delicate beauty by Stacey Daly takes us first into the innocent delight she enjoys as a thirteen year old, as one of her teachers starts to groom her towards the inevitable outcome. The handsome young teacher, who we do not see, spends over a year working on his target. All this time he continues to thrill his young conquest. So clearly are Dalyís reminisces that we feel the gentle caress of his lips on hers and her body shake to his embrace.

Play two, Iphigenia in Orem, a Utah businessman confides in a stranger, and to us, in a Las Vegas hotel room. He has done well and worked his way up through the tough American business world. Again from Gwydion Rhys a very pleasing, urbane delicacy. Though very happily married things look as if they are going awry at work.

Each of these plays is written as an individual monologue. But here, in a promenade setting, Durnall links them with an unseen, fine, silky spidery thread. The two characters sit facing each other from either end of the stage. Each in their own separate space, marked out with red tape. Each could be the otherís confidant as part of one story is told, then we cross and hear more of the other one.

Continuing to captivate us with her radiant, always with an innocent smile, she gives the impression that she is speaking to each of us individually. The baby arrives, the man has left. The boy is now fourteen years old; his loving mother decides itís time for him to meet his father. Things go well.

The man has become a little more cynical both about his work and his lifeís experience. Rhys has retained his likability throughout but becomes overcome by a secret darker side to his behaviour. By now the woman has gone through her own, very similar tragedy.

The sad stories are over. More delicate sensitivity from director Durnall as he brings the two characters to the centre of the stage where they take each other into their still suffering arms as the light fades away and a gentle glow arises in each one of us in the audience.

The play continues Chapter at until Sat. 2 July.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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