Two women share their last meal while waiting for the world to come to an end. Bread balances a tender portrayal of the duo’s relationship with a strong pinch of dark apocalyptic humour, in a production by Cardiff-based company Clock Tower.
We are given few clues as to what might have precipitated the world’s last hours, although its signs – toxic air, extreme heat – seem to point us in the direction of a human-engineered cataclysm. Equally mysterious are the means by which the two unnamed protagonists have managed to make it through the disaster alive, when all life around them seems to have vanished.
Throughout, the play remains surprisingly understated about its characters’ perspective on their own, now impending, doom. Instead, James Sarson chooses the path of dark comedy, as the two women share their food and wine with what is likely to be the last rat on earth. The audience is seated on both sides of the table, giving us a full view of the meal. Faebian Averies’ and Seren Vickers’ interpretation is light-hearted, but their exchange evinces a sense of complicity damaged by last minute revelations and regrets. ‘One’ (played by Averies) is wry, but restrained and secretive. ‘Two’ (Vickers), while purporting to wear her heart on her sleeve, confesses to having “stockpiled” secrets about herself, and anxiously insists on her partner to ‘stay safe’, in a tone that is both loving and a bit overbearing. This obsessive behaviour is partly explained by the characters’ complete isolation from the outside world, transformed beyond recognition by a chain of catastrophic events, and turning every expedition into a dangerous gamble. The telling of one such adventure brings about a moment of great intensity – which Sarson, ultimately, deflates with one last wisecrack, giving Bread the air of a sketch from the end of the world. The play leaves off a little abruptly, in the end, but this is a very promising debut, and one that makes for a really good evening at the theatre.