Widow’s Walk

NANCY NAPPER CANTER is underwhelmed by the play that cried plot.

coming of age nancy napper-canter robert yates self discovery Widow's walk

Corpus Playroom, 12th-16th June, 7pm, £5-6

Directed by Robert Yates

[rating: 2/5]

Widow’s Walk is about a journey. Not just any journey though: this is a self-proclaimed ‘coming of age story’. The journey of Widow’s Walk, of course, is one of self-discovery.

Our self-discoverer is Abigail Finch – a young painter struggling to tackle the stifling influences of an inferiority-complex-plagued mother (Elizabeth) and an fearsomely overbearing tutor (Margaret) in the run up to her exhibition. Having dropped out of her academy to work on a career-changing show, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a personal crisis catalysed partly by the pending homecoming of her long-absent brother. Ana Escobedo did a nice job of communicating Abigail’s frustration and anxiety. This, however, couldn’t compensate for the woodenness of the opening dialogue. Abigail and Elizabeth’s discussion should have been wrought with mother-daughter tension. Instead, it was flat and strangely hesitant; not helped by the characters’ markedly different accents.

Erica Irving’s was the strongest performance. Playing the manipulative, bumptious Margaret, she employed some superbly creepy smiles and condescending eyebrow-raises. Irving’s ease on stage was also particularly appreciated after the overwhelming stiltedness of the previous ten minutes. Freddie Crossley, too, deserves credit. He provided some delicately touching moments as Abigail’s earnest actor friend, Joe Pike. A wide-eyed hobbledehoy who craves omelettes under stress, Joe can’t tell the difference between acting games and real life. Crossley’s role was basically to deliver some light relief, and he did so with charm. In a play light on light relief, however, Crossley’s was a losing battle. The audience managed a few isolated ‘hum!’ laughs, but not much more.

The main problem with Widow’s Walk was a lack of momentum. When ‘Timothy Frost, a fisherman’ (Andrew Room) brought groundbreaking news at the climax, it just didn’t have the necessary impact. The play suffered from a sort of dramatic Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf syndrome. Accustomed to dramatic peaks such as ‘I think I would like to keep the show as it stands now’, I soon settled into a state of vague numbness. When beanie-clad boy Timothy appeared and cried plot, then, I failed to muster much of a reaction.

It was clear that close attention had been paid to the set, but direction was lacking overall. The frequently jolting dialogue was matched in awkwardness by the intermittent entrances and exits that punctuated it. Exit lines, too, proved difficult – particularly Elizabeth’s. I was relieved rather than annoyed when lines like, ‘good bye, dear’ were drowned out by the overly loud wave-lapping noise that accompanied each scene change.

The griefy ending sealed what was a disappointing evening. Widow’s Walk tried to tackle art, sibling rivalry and self-discovery. For me, however, the journey came to an end before it had even got off its feet.