A claustrophobic drama is being played out in Kentish Town. Upstairs at the Lion and Unicorn a girl lays scrunched up in a small bed, in a space littered with furniture, amongst which you are invited to find your vantage point. Enda Walsh's tight and incredibly word filled play about a young woman and her father confined in the space of the smallest bedroom in Cork unravels with a terrible intensity.
Daughter has polio and Dad is despairing, both wracked with unbearable emotions and unable to communicate with each other. Dad is wrapped up in memories of his youthful ambition and rise from furniture storeroom boy to silver tongued, insinuating salesman. Daughter plays all the bit parts to Dad's bombastic former self, singleminded and brutal about making money and making his name. When his energy collapses temporarily, we hear from daughter herself and she gradually reveals how she contracted the disease that binds her to bed. Hand in hand we learn a little about the much missed mother, building up to an awful revelation about the tiny, walled in bedroom and the mutually antagonising dynamic between parent and child.
Walsh's script is poetic, by turns, lyrical then ear lashing and delivered beautifully with superb performances from JD Kelleher and Susan Stanley. This is a powerful, compact production, blackly funny, frantic and moving. By the time silence descends at the end of a non-stop 55 minute show you might find you've been holding your breath.
Bedbound is showing at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, 44 Gaisford Road, Kentish Town until 22 November. Show starts 7.30pm. £12/10.