NANCY NAPPER-CANTER: shit-hot acting, half-baked play.
Fitzpatrick Hall, Queens’ College, 6th – 10th March, 7.45pm, £5/6
Directed by Simeon Wallis and Megan Roberts
As you can’t tell from its title, Eigengrau is about stereotypes. Four of them: ditzy Rose and feminist Cassie; Mark who works in marketing (ha) and job-seeking Tim. Check out The Tab’s excellent interview with the playwright before you read any further.
So, ladies first. Katherine Soper did a fine job with a disturbing role. Rose is a lot like Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky: her breed of ditzy is more scary than Phoebe Buffay. This said, her dreamy recollection of her first encounter with Mark – ‘we met in a vegetarian café… I was having a falafel’ – provoked laughs all round. Soper played Rose’s mental illness convincingly. The two most painful and shocking scenes were largely down to her. She didn’t disappoint.
Bridie McPherson was excellent as Cassie, who is everything Rose isn’t. McPherson’s interpretation had just the right amount of passion. Cassie’s rage when rehearsing her ‘rape porn’ speech was convincing, if a little clichéd. McPherson also managed great moments of pathos: I was genuinely moved when she confessed the paradoxes at the heart of her existence.
Now the men. Sam Curry was witty as macho, manipulative Mark. We laughed heartily at his acute embarrassment when, emerging topless from Rose’s room, he met Cassie at her laptop. (Awkward.) Mark’s smarmy condescension towards Tim was also undeniably funny. Theo Boyce gave a nice performance as gentle loser, Tim Muffin. Tim’s the sort of person who says things like ‘no worries’ and ‘it’s nice to meet you’ at a time of crisis. Boyce nicely conveyed Tim’s pathetic unassertiveness.
But there was a problem. Cassie remarks disparagingly: ‘most men aren’t very evolved’. This was true of Mark and Tim, but not in Cassie’s sense. Acting talent couldn’t compensate for the fact that neither of the male characters was properly developed. Tim, especially, felt too much like a plot device. I knew he was sad about his nan’s death, but not much else.
The direction was impressive. Lighting and set were very effective, and there were plenty of nice touches to be found. Sadly, the second half lost the production a star. As the plot became overheated, my interest fizzled out. The ending in particular felt glaringly contrived – the cast deserved better. The acting was strong, and we were definitely wooed by Eigengrau’s wit. The evening as a whole, however, left me unsatisfied.