Your Image Alt Text

Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham 

4.0Reviewer's Rating

I‘m sure we’ve all wondered what skeletons the neighbours might have in their closet, but what about dead bodies that have grown to over fifteen feet? Impossible, you may think. Not for Eugène Ionesco’s Amédée. The play, adapted by Sean Foley, tells the story  of struggling writer, Amédée (Trevor Fox) as he tries to finish the play he started writing fifteen years ago, much to the annoyance of his wife, Madeleine (Josie Lawrence). What starts as a seemingly simple domestic dispute soon descends into an absurd dream-like world.

Ionesco is known for portraying the tangles of human existence through the absurd, and Amèdèe is no exception. As you enter the theatre, you’re invited in by towers of teetering books set in a familiar sixties living room set, maybe with a mushroom or two popping up. Ti Green’s the design of the show reflected the slow descent into insanity with impeccable detail and flare, with particular mention to the grotesquely beautiful fifteen-foot puppet playing the couple’s biggest secret.

Lawrence and Fox’s relationship on stage is strong and carries the audience through this strange and entangled dilemma of how to get rid of the body they’ve been harbouring for fifteen years.  Supporting actors occasionally feature, reminding the audience that while this absurd escape plan is occurring, life goes on as usual for some.  Things get particularly weird when Amèdèe is seen flying through the sky, holding onto the corpse’s ankles, which was slightly confused by the company looking at different points during the audience; prosthetic legs dangle down to clear up any confusion.

The spiralling plot line is clearly rife with comedy, with particular commendation to Lawrence, Fox and Silbert for their masterful timing and execution of humour. At times, the repetition of a moment lead to the comedy being lost as the humour became predictable. In spite of this, however, the comedy gave a much-needed excuse to laugh simply at the absurdity of the situation: intelligent satire or wit wasn’t exactly necessary, but at times was missed.

Overall, no matter how strange you find seeing these events unfold on stage, I cannot fault the execution of this absurdist style. Not every aspect of the acting company is entirely successful, but the play tells a highly entertaining story, presented in an aesthetically pleasing way. If nothing else, this play gives its audience an insight into the depths of Ionesco’s mind, perhaps born in daydream when struggling to write a play of his own.

Continue the Discussion...