In this rewriting of the Greek myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, the poet who attempted to bring the woman he loved back from the dead, Zinnie Harris probes the experience of loss and mourning, and the consequences of that most human wish: what if you could have another moment with your loved ones after they passed away?
Two women, Helen (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and Robyn (Neve McInstosh), land on a desert island after their boat overturns. Helen is exhilarated by the outcome of their adventure, but Robyn feels sick and restless. Slowly, she becomes overwhelmed by a dream – or could it be a memory? – of Helen’s death after that same boat accident, and of her own incapacity to cope. Soon, the women are both left with the crude truth: one of them has died, and they only have a day to spend together.
The island created by Fred Meller is a single rock surrounded in strange fumes where silhouettes appear and disappear, and where things are not what they seem. A sink placed in the middle of the island serves as a trace of Helen and Robyn’s past life together, turning the stage into an uncanny space that echoes and warps the women’s wishes and fears, as they face their ordeal together.
A day onstage can shrink or swell indefinitely, but to Robyn and Helen, a day is too little, too late to make sense of their situation and express their despair and resentment. McIntosh and Duncan-Brewster’s connection feels authentic and their performance is intimate and vulnerable, as they take refuge in each other’s arms. When she realises that a day is all she will get, Helen angrily reminds Robyn that grief is something people do get over, and that she didn’t need to put her through this. Meet Me at Dawn rings truest when it eventually focuses on the inhuman cruelty of this supernatural meddling with death and grief, and the simple impossibility of losing a loved one.
- By Zinnie Harris
- Director: Orla O’Loughlin
- Composer and Sound designer: Danny Krass
- Cast: Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Neve McIntosh
- Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
- Until 27 August 2017
- Review by Marine Furet
- 14 August 2017