Review: Citysong At Soho Theatre
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Lyrical plays are few and far between these days. Dylan Coburn Gray’s Citysong, (winner of Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate award) exemplifies all the joys as well as the drawbacks of the genre.
This love letter to Dublin charts three generations of one family over the course of a single day. Coburn Gray, a fine stylist, pays as much attention to the rhythm and rhyme of the words as well as their meaning. His casual attitude to time and structure is playful and unconventional, allowing for the focus to flow, Liffey-like, between characters.
Sarah Bacon’s design — a large cracked mirror, doubling as an aerial map of Dublin — is a clever visual trick that both centres and distorts reflections of players and audience. Actors gaze and trace the lines of the city; the shards of docklands and districts a reflection of the fragmented narrative. Coburn Gray’s text is equally well served by the versatility of the cast: a seamless ensemble who convey intertwining narratives, characters and times without confusion.
For all its lyrical beauty, Citysong’s narrative is too loosely framed, its themes too broad and lightly touched on — the city, time, family, love — to say anything new. The play is ambitious but too wide in scope. The plot meanders and entirely lacks dramatic momentum. Yet Coburn Gray’s evident lyrical skill marks him out as a writer to watch.
Citysong, Soho Theatre, Dean Street, W1D 3NE. Tickets £11-£27, until 6 July 2019.
Last Updated 25 June 2019