is written by Lucy Kirkwood and Ed Hime, directed by Katie Mitchell. It
is an environmental piece. An audience of twenty is led into a basement
(?) flat, a front and back room, sparsely decorated. A TV, two sofas, a
table, some shelves, a couple of pictures, a mirror. A telephone. In
this room, in the early hours of the morning, a new mother is trying to
fill the silence. Her husband is away and she cannot sleep. Her baby is
wakeful and crying. She talks on the phone. She watches TV. She hoovers.
Anything to fill her head with noise. In an extended and almost
unbearable sequence she dances to The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Hey Boy Hey
Girl’ trying to find in it some exaltation, some ecstatic, ritual
release. She never makes it. The neighbours bang on the walls and she is
reduced to silence. Then her baby wakes. She leaves the room and soon
the baby is crying no more. She returns, coldly. The show ends.
It is one of the most terrible things to
watch, a virtually wordless hour in the heart of the night, unfolding
in real time and in one space. It never states it but by the end of the
play, she has undoubtedly killed her child. It’s a moment of controlled
horror that retrospectively makes sense of everything else we’ve seen.
The manic energy, the obsessiveness, the desire to escape. Sandy McDade
plays the mother with gaunt, ashen intensity, a woman on the very edge.
It’s a portrait, I guess, of post-natal depression and, in these
surroundings, you feel as trapped with her terrible feelings as she does
herself. It is an elegantly bleak sixty minutes, deliberately
unleavened by any humour. The expanse of tough carpet, the muted colour
of the walls, the lack of decoration, the cold glow from the street
lights against the net curtains, they all create an unrelieved urban
thinness of lived feeling, that seems to bring life closer to death and
makes the move from one to the other horribly easier, making that move
more understandable. It’s monochrome. But it also has terrific taste.
Katie Mitchell’s austere style is always graceful, exquisitely judged,
and here it is judged again so well and with tremendous heart. At no
point does it feel leering, intrusive or cheap.
It’s haunted me since I saw it on Monday. I know it will go on haunting me.