I first came across the company DryWrite in a visit to the Bush theatre last year, for their one off performance of “Funny / Not Funny”: half a dozen short plays written in the two weeks before the event, performed in a kitchen (the set of The Kitchen Sink to be precise) by a company of excellent actors (Tom Riley, Arthur Darvill, Jonjo O’Neill among others). The experience was a high wire act, at all times vibrant, frequently funny, occasionally transcending (a play about cute furry animals doing unspeakable things sticks to mind).
With their new production at the Soho theatre, the action has moved from the kitchen to the bathroom (requirements for functional stage plumbing remain). A couple goes through their morning bathroom routing. Intimacy, lust, tension, anticipation, bodily functions. Throughout the day, the bathroom becomes the focal point of a battle where trauma, loss of control and despair become an urgent, visceral, shocking presence. Marian and David love each other but they come to know this is not enough.
Jack Thorne’s dialogue is crisp, full of character and often very funny, and the actors go beyond the physical intimacy of the small exposing space. (SPOILER: there is plenty of nudity and this might be the first time I have seen an actor handling his genitalia on stage). Marian tries to talk her way out of a spiralling descent and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is equally impressive quipping jokes or chocking back unspoken grief, her mouth forming a line of utter despair. Keir Charles as David effortlessly dances around panic, disappointment and uncontrollable rage. Both actors, along with director Vicky Jones, create an explosive, intimate, frequently shocking landscape.
If I have a complaint, it’s around the subplot of a struggling small business. The characters deal with emotional issues, but the pressures of day to day survival are alluded but left unexplored. I would have liked to see how pressing practicalities interact with devastating trauma.
Nevertheless, that’s a small quibble for a production which is original, visceral and very relevant. I waited almost a year for a new DryWrite production, hopefully it won’t be this long till the next.
P.S. Mydidae – definition (via wikipedia): a small cosmopolitan family of large flies.