Writer: Neil LaBute
Director: Jonathan O’Boyle
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
Neil LaBute’s beautifully crafted trilogy of one-act plays explores the hidden evil in everyday people. This most recent production, 31 Productions transfer from the Old Red Lion, is played on the same stage as Bash’s West End debut and brought to life with style, panache and unflinching candour.
Performed in the order of publication, the three mini-plays are Iphigenia in Orem, A Gaggle of Saints, and Medea Redux – two monologues plays sandwiched round a dualogue filling. The monolgues have a strong link to Euripides, hence their titles, and LaBute cleverly updates the deeds of these well-known stories to a modern, and terrifyingly recognisable, setting.
Iphigenia in Orem shows a young businessman (Philip Scott-Wallace) addressing an unseen female in a hotel room. Scott-Wallace’s delivery is superb, fast-paced and multi-faceted, as he builds a warm rapport with the audience only to shock them with his revelations. Young couple John and Sue (Tom Vallen and Dani Harrison) recount their different experiences of the same night out in A Gaggle of Saints. The dualogue is somewhat unbalanced, with John having the majority of the text, but Harrison gives a strong performance as Sue, offering a calm counterpoint to the escalating violence being described. Vallen is truly outstanding as John, transforming before the audience’s eyes from a likeable everyman to a sinister, hate-filled horror. Last but by no means least, Rebecca Hickey knocks it out of the park in Medea Redux. Telling her story without a trace of remorse, imperceptibly moving from anxiety to eerie stillness, Hickey’s subtle and nuanced performance sends chills down the spine.
With such terrible acts described by the characters, all of whom espouse the Mormon faith, it is no surprise that the author left – or rather received disfellowshipment from – the church after their publication. Jonathan O’Boyle deft direction makes full use of Sarah McCann’s simple and stunning set, and the small touches resonate as loudly as the well-crafted words of the author.
Well performed, beautifully staged and skilfully designed, this is a wonderfully uncomfortable insight into the darkest recesses of human behaviour.
Photo: Darren Bell | Runs until 7thJune