Abigail* (The Bunker)

Posted: January 18, 2017 in Theatre

abigailmainHaving seen more than a little theatre, a rule emerges that any play for which the programme lists the characters as “woman” and “man” is to be approached with suspicion, perhaps even more so when the play’s title is the name of a woman. To be fair, a barely audible murmur in Fiona Doyle’s one-hour play indicates that “woman” could be “Abby”, but this information counters what seems to be the writer’s mission to separate drama and context. In principle, there is nothing wrong with a play being enigmatic, but the chief problem with this one is that it tries much too hard to be such and for no clear purpose.

In chronological order, two people meet in Berlin airport. have a quick fling in a hotel, travel together and form a relationship that proves to be mutually destructive. However, Doyle tells the story in non-linear form, asking the audience to care when the foundations of the relationship are crumbling, before explaining what those foundations are. The device of juggling with time or even reversing it has worked brilliantly before when used by, for example, Harold Pinter, giving the audience a different and revelatory perspective on events. Unfortunately, it this case, it seems to achieve very little at all.

Playing around with chronology, making the characters anonymous and (apart from the mention of Berlin) avoiding any sense of place, Doyle perplexes us, but, by removing context, she makes it impossible for us to care. All that is left is an hour in which two people talk a lot about nothing of any great significance on a set made up of white and brown boxes. Only engaging performances by Tia Bannon and Mark Rose save director Joshua Mactaggart’s production from complete disaster.

Performance date: 17 January 2017

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