The Plughole (Life Goes Down the Drain)

Peter Mortimer

Cloud Nine

Low Lights Tavern, North Shields

From 28 January 2013 to 30 January 2013

Review by Peter Lathan

In Marmite, the third in the Cloud Nine @ The Low Lights series, writer Peter Mortimer ventured into absurdist territory with a touch of Ionesco; in The Plughole he goes further, with more than a touch of NF Simpson. There’s no choir of speak-your-weight machines singing The Hallelujah Chorus nor is there a life-size model of the Old Bailey in sight but the basic premise is just as bizarre, a man being sucked down his bath’s plughole, starting with just one big toe. A little, perhaps, like Uncle George who changed his sex on the train on the way down…

Bizarre indeed, and the language he and his wife speak is just as strange. It’s sort of formal, almost literary, and yet the actors (Robbie Lee Hurst as Gravity and Jill Dellow as his wife Trap—yes, really!) treat it naturalistically. No mean feat, actually.

There is emotion there, too, in their relationship, in their memories of their past and their reactions to the current situation, but, expressed in the rather oddball language of the piece, it takes on an otherworldly feel, as if we are in some kind of parallel universe.

At around 30 minutes in length (it’s preceded by a 20 minute performance from different local musicians each evening), it kept the packed audience constantly amused.

And packed it was. The venue is tiny: with around 40 people in, there is just enough room for the bath and a little space behind and to one side for Trap to move around. This real intimacy adds hugely to the impact of the piece, complementing the clever writing and the fine performances from Hurst and Dellow.