This powerfully performed debut production from Otherlife sadly suffers from its under-written script.
Marian (Isabella Marshall) and David (Matthew Raymond) are a couple in their thirties who have a secret. On the anniversary of their loss, and across a single day, we are flies on the wall (the titular Mydidae flies) in the most intimate of locations – the bathroom. Both literally and metaphorically the characters are stripped naked, and standing in the harsh light of the bathroom the ugly truth about them is revealed. Played with a raw intimacy by Marshall and Raymond, the dynamic between the couple is complex and undeniably watchable. As the play progresses, the cracks in the thin veneer of their relationship are exposed and we see that behind their smiles and kisses is a powder keg ready to ignite at the slightest provocation.
The first production from new theatre company OtherLife, the script choice is a bold one. Written by Jack Thorne (best known for TV’s Skins, This Is England and the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), the script is actually one of the weaker elements in this otherwise competent production. Marian’s character in particular feels under-written; the reasons for her misery and despair are hinted at but aren’t explored sufficiently to allow the audience to empathise with her. Veering more towards Pinter style subtext, there is perhaps just a little too much left out of the script for it to hit home. The setting of the bathroom is also a very bold one; it is a room which lends itself to absolute intimacy, and yet some of the action and narrative taking place there feels a little contrived.
Designed by Ceci Calf, the production design is excellent. Set in a bathroom complete with a running bath and flushing toilet, we are completely transported to the couples life. In one devastatingly effective scene the mood dramatically switches from intimacy to brutality as a candle-lit bath turns into something from a horror film. This climactic scene is heart-stoppingly potent, and Marshall gives an incredible performance throughout. The rest of the production is slightly less even in its execution; the script feels very episodic in nature and as a result the transitions between scenes need to be slick. The decision to have silent black-outs between transitions serves only to take the audience out of the moment, where other choices could have made the show run more seamlessly. The music choice too feels a little obvious – for example Birdy’s cover of Skinny Love plays at one point where the audience is meant to feel sad. Yet songs like that already have ingrained meaning in the public consciousness for most; the use of a less well known artist or song could arguably have been more effective.
Mydidae is a brave statement of intent from OtherLife; the nudity and strong mature themes in the show demonstrate that they are not afraid to make daring decisions. Unfortunately the overall execution of the piece was somewhat lacking; at times the pace felt somewhat uneven, switching domestic drama to domestic tragedy with little warning. Isabella Marshall and Matthew Raymond’s performances are incredible; it is difficult to like or connect with either character and yet they are still captivating to watch. The biggest issue with the production remains the under-written script, which despite several incredible moments lacks the ability to follow through on its promises. Powerfully performed by both members of its cast, Mydidae demonstrates that OtherLife Theatre company have clear potential, but are still finding their feet.
Mydidae is running at The Other Room Theatre until 2nd June 2018. For more information and tickets click here
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Photo credit Jack Willingham.