Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Taut, modern day psycho-drama with a Turn of the Screw, Henry James feel, set in a remote country house with a body in the garden.
Absent fathers become ‘physiological echoes’ in their children. What a disturbing thought. Distressing for the children who have to fathom out how much of their nature is inherited on their father’s side but also, perhaps, distressing for the fathers. Throw into this heady mix the guilt and resentment that might be felt when a father walks out and leaves his responsibilities behind and you will get a sense of the tensions that are explored in this gripping piece of writing by Neil Smith, brilliantly acted by Luke Barton and Jill Rutland, and directed by Ross Drury, with movement from Rose Ryan.
We are invited to involve ourselves within a modern day gothic horror story set in an isolated cottage. Nothing is as it first seems: a block of half carved wood becomes a headless child called Julie, the girl abandoned by her father. Helene, the spurned wife, a village lass who was besotted with John, plays out John’s conscience as she enters his dreams night after night.
John finds Helene beautiful and professes his love. The love is superficial, he knows little about her and doesn’t ask. The passion is there though – heaps of that. Alas, the pressure of living with his mother-in-law gets him down. Bully for John, he can bugger off, like so many fathers do, and Helene is left to do the caring while carrying John’s child.
John sounds like a stockbroker, and pretty well to do, so my guess is that he lives the high life but he can’t sleep… that flaming conscious is keeping him up at night…. and when he does perchance to dream we are treated to a gothic turn of the screw – or chisel in this case. Reservoir Dogs meets Lear. Chilling. There’s a fair deal of blood.
I came out, strangely, singing John Mayer’s ‘Daughters’:
Fathers, be good to your daughters / Daughters will love like you do / Girls become lovers who turn into mothers / So mothers, be good to your daughters too
Clearly my unconscious was echoing in mysterious ways.