Mother-Daughter Drama Disappoints At Camden People's Theatre

BelindaL
By BelindaL Last edited 32 months ago
Mother-Daughter Drama Disappoints At Camden People's Theatre ★★☆☆☆ 2

Sean Campion and Scott Turnbull are mother and daugher in this play about lost parental idols

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

It was the premise of Gods are Fallen and All Safety Gone that got us hooked. That is, the erosion of the faith we have in our parents as all-powerful and perfect, and a mother and daughter relationship played by men in the female roles. What would we discover afresh through the unusual casting by Newcastle-based theatre company, Greyscale?

Unfortunately, not much. It is both funny and touching to see recognisable rituals objectified, such as when mother Anne (Sean Campion) gets rid of some toothpaste on her daughter’s cheek with a just-licked finger. But there are wasted opportunities. Why, when Anne chides her daughter for dumping Mark who she says is her 'last chance', does Annie take it so equably? It seems an unlikely reaction and it’s not the only instance. Scott Turnbull who (rightly) plays Annie as a human being rather than even vaguely hamming her up as a woman, could have explored more mother-daughter tensions, made interesting just by his male-ness. For example, Campion's Anne was less powerful we felt because he played her as a female.

The story is essentially one scene repeated about four times until death finally humanises the mother. But each act is slightly different, with new revelations or details subtly-tweaked as they meander through a life consisting of tea, taking baths and going down endless dead-end conversations. It conveys the banality and repetitiveness of familial life, contrasting with new truths exposed at last. But some odd experiments with pace — perhaps aimed at mirroring the pace of the couple's lives as they age — only confused this experience. At the start, Annie and Anne race round each other, swapping places on stage each time they say a line, which is distracting. It contrasts with the slow, plodding final act in which each line is delivered after long pauses, but only in the sense that we are alternately confused and then a bit bored.

We’d like to say this was a brilliant short play about a little-explored yet universal theme on the fragility of parents and love between mother and daughter through the lens of male actors. But it just didn't live up to it, although the material is all there in Selma Dimitrijevic's concise writing.

Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone is at the Camden People's Theatre until Sunday 31 May. Tickets £12/10.
Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

SOLT

Last Updated 18 May 2015