Like Blood from A Cheap Cigar
TheSpace @ Surgeons Hall
4th – 26th August
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
The intimate stage setting took us straight to the heart of the action – a bed, a table, a bookcase, with black drapes covering all walls and ceiling. The effect of this stark contrast was to focus our attention, diamond clear, on the confines of this bedroom where all of the action was to be played out. The lovers, George and Margo, were well acquainted with the room and with each other, & we became observers of an interaction that had been going on for some time, a dance that was familiar to both of them. He tried to persuade her to let him come into the room, she resisted.
At the start, George (Joseph Reitman) came across as a rather dubious character with an air of danger about him. This was confirmed when he entered swigging on a bottle of wine and bearing white powder in great quantities. It seems that Margo (Genevieve Joy) would be unable to resist for long and soon succumbs to his lovemaking charms, as perhaps he knew very well that she would.
In the course of their lovemaking a new conversation began, a softer, more romantic exchange where we could see how much they cared for each other and had done for some time. It was no longer possible merely to characterize him as the classic villain of the piece – after all, modern attitudes to drugs and booze perhaps mean that this particular form of villainy is not as important as it used to be. In fact, the focus of the play was not about these vices, but rather the great fact that he loved her, and she him.
But it wasn’t straightforward – in the ebb and flow of the dialogue, we became aware that her desire for him was almost desperate. He got frustrated as she revealed her plans to share her life with him, her desire for him to fight for her and for their relationship. At moments, his passionate, almost violent, answers made us wonder about her safety and her state of mind. But he always held back from going too far and repeatedly asks her if she was happy. She wants something from him, kept looking to him to try and find it, kept pressing him to understand her and what she wants. Sometimes we were not sure whether their story would unravel and deteriorate into depravity, or would it grow into a love that could conquer all. All in all, their search for a way to reach each-others’ hearts was intensely endearing.
Despite the dark undertones, this WAS a romantic comedy, lovingly created by two actors who convincingly inhabited their space and presented us with a unique and touching take on the art of storytelling. The characters seemed physically comfortable and familiar with each other: the costume changes where Margo changed her clothes in front of George, again seem very authentic and serve as a way of defining the mood, at one point we have sexy lingerie, at another comfortable pyjamas. The strong dialogue between the two was in turn descriptive, joyful, uncomfortable, sensational and sensible. Moments of total silence effectively created space for reflection. This play invites us unto a bedroom and effortlessly explores the mystery of the love of a woman for her man who finds himself dedicated to her. It seems an ideal offering for the Fringe, being an evening that was intimate, thoughtful and highly emotional. If you want to feel good, go to the show and let it take you on the journey.
Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly