Edinburgh Fringe 2015
“When a child first catches adults out – when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just – his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone.” John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Taking its name from this quote, The Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone is an exploration of that point in our lives when we realise that our parents aren’t the infallible god-like creatures they appear to be when we are children.
We see a mother and daughter having a rather mundane, everyday sort of conversation, discussing other family members and details of the daughter’s relationship. There is the familiar affection, annoyance, judgement and intimacy we would expect in the parent/child dynamic. The conversation is repeated again, with a few slight changes. Then again. This may not sound very interesting, but the decision to use two male actors to play these characters allows us to experience the complexities of their relationship without any of the preconceptions we would otherwise have.
Both Sean Campion as the mother and Scott Turnbull as the daughter give beautifully crafted, gentle performances, making the audience forget after the first few minutes about the cross-gender casting. They inhabit this mother and daughter as they pace around the stage. Selma Dimitrijevic’s sparse script and clever direction, including having a real life mother and daughter on stage watching the action and having Campion change his top to indicate passing of time, allows the subtext of the banal conversations to rise to the surface. The reveal towards the end of the piece isn’t necessarily a surprise to most of the audience as far as I can tell, but it is so gently and delicately handled that it doesn’t matter if you saw it coming or not.
I can’t promise you won’t want to call your mother as soon as you leave the theatre, but I can highly recommend this beautiful piece of theatre.