Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Meet Me At Dawn

Traverse Theatre
Four stars

“It's a monstrous world, and it's not enough,” howls an agonised Robyn midway through Zinnie Harris' new play, co-produced by the Traverse Theatre with Edinburgh International Festival. It begins on a beach that might be an island, and where Robyn is asking her partner Helen if she's okay. The pair have been washed ashore following a serious boating accident, and are possibly still in shock. This is nothing, however, to what eventually transpires in an isolated landscape where not even destiny-changing moths survive.

There is a stillness running through Orla O'Loughlin's elegant production, despite the torrent of words flowing from Robyn's mouth in an attempt to understand what may or may not be happening. What initially starts out looking like an everyday tale of extreme domestic survival takes an emotional and stylistic lurch, so it becomes a pilgrimage of sorts to a painfully recent past in an attempt to rebuild a life beyond.

Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Helen and Neve McIntosh as Robyn are vivid presences throughout, with McIntosh especially a ferocious mess of inner turmoil made all the worst by the fact that it is beyond Robyn's control. Are her coping strategies visions caused by strange vagrant women in her garage? Or is it a kind of self-help therapy unconsciously designed to protect herself? Either way, steered with empathy and care by O'Loughlin, Harris has created a fragile gem of a play that takes a refreshingly skewed look at loss, grieving and how to finally let go. Somewhere inbetween in this bittersweet elegy to things not quite passed, there is the holding on, then holding on some more.

The Herald, August 8th 2017

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