Saturday, 9 May 2015

Theatre review: Deluge

Moi Tran's set for Fiona Doyle's Deluge has certainly taken the play's title literally: The traverse stage is flooded, with a raised central platform forming a kitchen area on which most of the action takes place. The front rows have been given towels because there's a lot of splashing about - I found that sitting on the left-hand audience bank from the entrance, and draping the towel over my legs and bag were enough to keep me dry, although when a chair gets chucked into the water it's every man for himself. All the water is because the play has an apocalyptic feel, with biblical levels of flooding - Ireland, where the story is set, has it pretty bad, but from what we hear America has it much worse. As more clouds gather overhead, farmer Kitty (Elaine Cassidy) is behind bars.

We first meet her in a cell, reluctantly speaking to an Interviewer (Charlotte Randle,) representing an unnamed "They," who's trying to piece together the events that led to Kitty's incarceration.

So we flash back to a time when the flooding has already started, putting more pressure on a farm that already had trouble enough: Her father-in-law has just died leaving Kitty and husband Joe (Edward MacLiam) in greater debt than they realised. They've just discovered Kitty is pregnant, and all the help they have is drunk, Bible-spouting old farmhand Flan (Gary Lilburn.) FLAN.

Not Flan.

With mysterious raiders stealing feed from neighbouring farms, there's a sense of paranoia to add to the apocalyptic mood. But while Anna Ledwich's production does its best to give the piece the urgency of a thriller, Doyle's morose, talky script doesn't give us much to be intrigued about as she pulls the story's strings together.

Not Flan.

It's a good cast, Randle is always good value - she even has to quickly recite a Dr. Seuss tongue-twister, twice, although exactly why is anyone's guess. But with a play that never seems sure how far it wants to venture out of gritty reality into something a bit more supernatural, I just wasn't that interested. Hampstead Theatre uses a good fabric conditioner though, those towels were lovely and soft. It's not a good sign that that was enough to distract me, is it? That and FLAN.


Deluge by Fiona Doyle is booking until the 16th of May at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs.

Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes straight through.

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