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Abigail

Fiona Doyle
The Bunker Theatre
The Bunker

Abigail Credit: Anton Belmonté for 176 Flamingo Lane
Abigail Credit: Anton Belmonté for 176 Flamingo Lane
Abigail Credit: Anton Belmonté for 176 Flamingo Lane

With a seemingly chaotic backdrop of cardboard boxes and a door leading to the unknown, there’s plenty left to the imagination in Fiona Doyle’s one-act tale of a twisted relationship.

When a chance meeting at an airport sparks a journey across Berlin, a love story begins, but in true fringe style this is presented in snatched moments darting between the past and present, complete with eerie soundtrack.

The writing is taut, only slightly developing the characters leaving plenty for the actors to play with—Tia Bannon’s changes in voice and demeanour are particularly effective marking the woman’s changing attitude and signalling the difference in their status.

This aids not only the development of the relationship but also contributes to the unravelling—the actual age gap never more noticeable than the first time they kiss in the snow and never more ominous than a later monologue, a reminiscence of another snowy experience. This step change however, is rather dramatic with very little context and is close to the mark in terms of being obviously theatrical.

Mark Rose compliments this punchy performance with subtler characterisation, gently becoming more subdued and losing his comedic sparkle. We learn little about the man other than the fact his bucket list is long and ambitious. In later scenes though he is quiet to the point of almost being inaudible.

In a way this is quite a clinical production, the audience voyeurs in a situation where it is hard to warm too much to either the man or woman. The very fact we never learn their names or much, if anything, about their past also adds a sinister undertone—we are simply observing chapters from their fractured story.

They are educated individuals, speaking of travel, art and classical sculpture but they are also ‘everymen’ reaching out for their desires and desperately trying to hold onto them, wanting life to live up to the hype and blindly ignoring the signs that their expectations might be too high.

There are many themes to grasp here and some beautifully poetic language handled well by two strong actors but the play lacks any real emotional punch—whilst intriguingly minimal a little more context or explanation would add depth to the series of events that lead to the finale.

Reviewer: Amy Yorston