FESTIVAL THEATRE | Reviews
P H O T O :
A N D E R S W O T Z K E
YOKES NIGHT Fictional Dublin tale hits hard, but never leaves a bruise ●●●●●
It’s 11 March 2015 in Ireland. Harry (writer and performer Scott Lyons) is a typically feckless, horny working-class teenager who has just learned that tonight all drugs are legal, and everything permissible. When he meets the enigmatic, seductive Saoirse (Zoe Forrester) in a seedy club, it’s not just the pills that make his heart race. But she’s damaged and what initially attracts him proves to be his downfall. There’s a lot of superb writing here,
reminiscent of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs. The set’s simple building blocks, which act as a bed, club podium or statue of James Joyce, are a fine choice of prop, restating the feeling of role play and naiveté between the young lovers. Lyons and Forrester as Saoirse and Harry have real chemistry, and some hilarious and touching scenes, but underneath the issues of abortion, rape and diatribes on tax- avoiding politicians, there is a sense of little more than an Adam and Eve for the post-rave generation, and a clichéd warning to avoid the temptress. The volte-face feels a little forced and paints
the duo’s respective denouements into a corner. Nonetheless, Yokes Night is a seething play with two superbly judged performances, and a lot of style. (Lorna Irvine) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 2.15 pm, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).
P H O T O :
G R A E M E B R A D W O O D
DROPPED Motherhood fixation leaves a sour taste ●●●●● THE ROAD TO HUNTSVILLE Frustratingly light tale of death row love ●●●●●
Katy Warner wrote this two-hander in response to the Australian government’s decision to allow women to fight on the frontline by 2016. And perhaps the price to pay for reacting fictionally before the policy is fully implemented is that there might not be enough material available on which to base her story.
Instead, Warner has imagined a pressure-cooker tale of two abandoned soldiers, with nods to Beckett and Stoppard in its circles of boredom, manic anecdotes and absurdist non-sequiturs.
As savage reality encroaches, however, there
emerges a distinct, persistent feminine focus to their mental disintegration – babies. Women swapping making babies for killing babies, in Warner’s world, is a state of affairs doomed to end in horror of the most appalling Sarah Kane-esque style. This lazy motif unfortunately dominates a script that is otherwise peppered with vicious poetry and interesting images of femininity. Despite strong performances from Sarah Cullinan and Natalia Sledz, the relentless association of women, motherhood and mental breakdown leaves a sour taste in a piece purporting to deal with women escaping the confines of gender. (Lucy Ribchester) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 1pm, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).
84 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
Why do certain women fall in love with prisoners on death row? With men who are sometimes multiple rapists or serial killers, often travelling thousands of miles to marry them behind bars? Is it – a theory Stephanie Ridings contemptuously dismisses in her appealing, engaging show – because these men represent the ultimate alpha male, who will protect and provide for them? Or is it simply because they think they can save them?
Sadly, none of those questions are answered, or even properly addressed, in the frustratingly lightweight The Road to Huntsville. Indeed, the show’s first-person tale of a woman researching the subject for a theatre piece, then inadvertently finding herself in too deep, suggests that it’s simply because she’s too dippy to realise the implications of what she’s doing. It’s doubly frustrating because the show’s theatrical
practicalities – its inventive staging, slick pacing, gradually unfolding structure, as well as Ridings’ oblivious protagonist – are well-nigh faultless. There’s so much potential in it. But the show needs its issues brought far more strongly to the surface if it’s to convey much of real substance. (David Kettle) ■ Summerhall, 560 1581, until 28 Aug (not 22), 8.45pm, £10 (£8).
JONAS MÜLLER REGRETS WRITING THIS F*CKING MASTERPIECE Poetic show about the struggle to engage ●●●●●
The guy on stage shouldn’t even be here. It’s not his story. He’s simply reading the script that Jonas left, showing us the photos that Jonas prepared, and asking us the odd question, presumably to make sure we’re still involved. And that script tells us the story of his (or Jonas’?) years-long affection for childhood friend Lise, and his inability to do much about it, or anything much in his life. Until he takes four years out to write the masterpiece of the show’s title, that is.
Dutch-born writer / performer Tim Honnef’s
endearingly ramshackle show works on many levels: as a sweet, touching story of unrequited love; as a dark confessional on obsession and an inability to deal with contemporary life; and as an elusive reflection on authorship and identity. By constantly shifting between his themes, testing
our patience with long, repetitive explanations and sticking to his homespun delivery, he sets us the challenge of not giving in to the kind of disinterest he’s describing. They give his show its distinctive character, but ultimately undermine much that it’s trying to say. Nevertheless, it’s a warm-hearted, poetic hour, fragile and poignant. (David Kettle) ■ Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 28 Aug (not 22), noon, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).