How to Kill (Your Lover)

Written by Theatre Objektiv
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
(2005)

Publicity image

A failed relationship, one of the most common occurrences in the world, the subject of plays without number and a situation familiar to almost everyone. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They fall out of love. They part. Such is the simplicity of Theatre Objektiv's latest production; a blackly comedic depiction of the forming and dissolution of a loving couple, examined briefly and subtly without ever taking too deep a focus on any grounding reality and leaving its tongue firmly in its cheek. The piece is derived from a combination of the poetry of Pablo Neruda and the artistic imagery of Bruce Nauman, and formed as an emergent collaboration of the director and the actors.

The story is more of an exercise than a traditional narrative; the outcome is never in question and yet, despite this, the manner in which we reach it is absurdly clever. The characters we see are archetypes. There is no sense of blame as that would detract from the focus; the inherent links between love and hate, affection and anger, and how each can spawn from another through the passage of time.

The work, of performers Eddie McCabe and Sharron Devine, is concertedly abstract whilst retaining a sense of logical progression. Through Ed Robson's direction, the dynamic between the two lovers is thoughtfully evoked and performed. From the "honeymoon period" to the more settled times of familiarity which inevitably lead to argument and contempt to the final closing moments where they finally split from one another, both literally and figuratively.

These changes in the relationship are depicted in a variety of means: song, dance, monologue and physical artistry as well as the odd piece of traditional dramatic interplay all coalescing into a capable whole. The actors' interplay is at times complex and exhausting, with patterns of movement woven into knots around the stage, punctuated with dry observations. Acting almost as a third narrator, Nigel Dunn's music highlights the action without ever intruding into it. Similarly, the lighting is ever moving to alter the emotional thrust of each scene.

Curiously the depths of the relationship are never shown, nor are we allowed to learn enough about the characters to form cohesive opinions on them. The play's opening takes us down several false starts before showing the true origins of the relationship, allowing us to see that the story is universal and not bound by the social status or lifestyles that are gently mocked.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan