Monday, 2 June 2014

Theatre review: Circles

The theatre may be called the Tricycle, but there's a different mode of transport at the centre of the latest play on its stage. Rachel De-lahay's Circles takes its title in part from the route of the number 11 bus, which goes all around Birmingham in two and a half hours. But there's also a much darker cyclical nature to the play's structure, as three generations of women keep making the same mistakes with men, all of them blaming each other for how their lives turned out. Angela (Sarah Manners) arrives at her mother Phyllis' house, to stay for a few nights after her husband beat her up - far from the first time it's happened. Phyllis (Janice McKenzie) herself endured violence from Angela's father, that's left her disabled and withdrawn from the world - particularly men. Angela, though, deals with her problem with a blindly optimistic search for the next man, and trusts things will turn out better.

Meanwhile Angela's teenage daughter Demi (Danusia Samal) spends most evenings circling the city on the bus, flirting with a boy. She too seems to have made some bad choices with men already, but is Malachi (Toyin Omari-Kinch) a step in the right direction or more of the same?

De-lahay is developing a distinctive, concise style, although Circles feels like it could have done with maybe another five minutes to really tie things up. She's got a gift for dialogue though, from the sweet comedy of the teenage romance, to the often genuinely uncomfortable scenes of the mother and daughter dealing with their own pain by lashing out at each other. And in a vicious plot twist, the play ends on a reminder that there's more than one way for a woman to feel abused.

Circles by Rachel De-lahay is booking until the 14th of June at the Tricycle Theatre.

Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes straight through.

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