Gods Are Fallen is a play about a mother and daughter relationship. Something like Beckett’s Play, it explores the conceit of repetition – in this case the same general scenario being replayed three times, with differences developing. Gradually the details of their lives emerge: the boyfriend is no longer in the picture; the mother is no longer alive. Finally, the two sit down and speak directly: asking one another whether they are happy, and confessing to thoughts and events that had never been addressed.
In Greyscale’s production – directed by the author of the text – the two women are played by men. Scott Turnball and Sean Campion present subtle and convincing sketches, in a performance style that is relaxed but poised. As in Genet’s The Maids, the effect of having men playing women in a modern setting is that the play often ends up feeling less about the female psyche than about male constructions of it. Though this sometimes feels distant from the themes of the play – it serves as a reminder of the universality of the parenthood motif, whilst at the same time indicating the potential fallibility of any attempt to represent it.
The production is a little messy. Though minimal and free form, with the actors moving seemingly randomly about the space – it has a curiously inhibited feeling, and what staging decisions do exist (for instance the daughter changing shirt with every scene) are a little clumsily executed.
Nevertheless – as a meditation on parenthood, this show by Greyscale feels carefully conceived. It is a convincing and bold exploration of challenging themes: the gradual erosion of trust, the discovery of common ground, the conversations that remain trapped in the imagination.