In Peckham’s CLF Arts Café two writers from Down Under present their plays for the first time in the U.K.
In Holiday, two men dressed in just budgie-smugglers and dipping in and out of a paddling pool, while away an hour discussing about life’s oddities and singing baroque arias about the nature of love. They discuss everything, and nothing, dreams, horoscopes, confession and holiday romance and yet as characters they remain inscrutable. The way they see the world and how they relate to each other’s points of view is appealing. The free-form of our inner dialogues vocalized.
In The Eisteddfod, two agoraphobic siblings create a fantasy world inside their flat. Unable to live in the outside world after their parents’ deaths they play-act their adult desires, anxieties and aspirations. Abalone is aspiring to win the Eisteddfod (a Welsh festival of literature, music and performance, which dates back to at least the 12th century, says Wikipedia) which has, as a prize, a one way ticket to Moscow, and rehearses Macbeth. Gerture – the sister – teaches German and struggles to deal with the collapse of her relationship with Ian.
Brother and sister role play, sometimes as lovers, sometimes as their parents, sometimes as unrelated characters and it is obvious that much of it is familiar and has been played out time and time again. There are even instances, when one demands from the other to play out a specific scene, to match the mood at that time. The more that is revealed about these characters, the darker it feels. However, comedic snapshots are ever-present. The play hints at child abuse and incest and the siblings’ obsessions and futile existence become claustrophobic.
Despite their quirky concept, neither of the plays actually works for me. As far as dark comedies go, the humour brought just the occasional half-hearted chuckle.
The two men in Holiday are most definitely not Vladimir and Estragon and the attempt to hint at deeper philosophical issues of the human condition falls far from the mark. The mid-sentence singing had a rather bewildering effect on me and I admit I saw no conceptual purpose.
The Eisteddfod on the other hand is more appealing. The make-believe world of the siblings becomes gradually darker and the fragility of the human mind and its ability for escapism are demonstrated eloquently.