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Amygdala

Geraldine Alexander
The Print Room
The Print Room

Amygdala Credit: Print Room

Amygdala, Geraldine Alexander's first play, has a lot of work to do. It's a well-worn tale of two lovers from two different sides of the tracks—he's a dosser saxophone player in a hoodie, she's a high-flung lawyer with kids living in Hampstead—that's aiming to be a bit more poetical, a bit more searching.

It starts at the end: something has happened causing Catherine to lose her mind. If she can't remember who she is then Joshua, currently awaiting trial, will go to prison. Both are being questioned by psychiatrist Simon, unravelling how the pair first met and how they ended up flirting and falling for each other.

Joshua may not be very convincing as a 'bloke from the streets' (that's a designer hoodie you're wearing mate) and Simon may have some baffling interludes about the different parts of the brain, but overall the play works. The interactions between Joshua and Catherine, though a bit textbook, are believeable and warm, even if there's a worrying element of coercion in their first encounters (is Catherine going along with this strange man who's stopped her at the bus because she's worried for her saftey and means to humour him?).

But the sum of all of this is well-oiled tedium: it's perfectly fine but with little that makes it remarkable other than an excellent performance from Hermione Gulliford. There are some notable misteps, such as when Joshua literally listens to Catherine's heart to know how she feels by putting his head to her chest, and the ending tries very hard to be shocking but ends up feeling like trite soap opera.

The staging is well done, filling the large, rectangular space of the Print Room—think a long corridor lined with seats with some very clever touches such as fake windows and stars appearing from the floor, though you do find yourself craning your head at times—but not enough to make this play stand out.

Ultimately, while decent, well put together and watchable, Amygala wants to be delicate and intricate but ends UP conventional.

Reviewer: Tobias Chapple