Lough / Rain
Declan Freenan and Clara Brennan
Real Circumstance and York Theatre Royal
York Theatre Royal Studio
This evening of one act plays is presented with Bridget Foreman's Beyond Measure up first. Lough/Rain starts at 9.30pm and is written by two writers, Declan Freenan and Clara Brennan, and thus the play becomes very much a piece of two halves. In the first half a young couple meet early in the morning before work and discuss the night before. While Caoimhe (Kate Donmall) is engaged in telling the tales of her night out and active social life with her work mates, Michael (Jot Davies) is distracted by the sound of some one rowing a boat out early on the Lough. While on the surface this is very much a couple happily married in the first flush of their relationship, somehow their discussions are discordant. Director Dan Sherer directs with an infinitely detailed eye, timing the pauses between the couple's conversations so that they are just a fraction too long to be comfortable and you begin to suspect that something is not quite right.
We leave them with Michael getting ready to leave for a funeral and Caoimhe off to work and another social evening which she forgot to tell her husband about. As the second half unfolds we are in the new setting of a residential care home, some time later, where Michael now resides. In the aftermath of a horrible accident, Michael is significantly disabled and Caoimhe tries to visit him every day. The changes in both the characters and the relationship are astounding and fantastically well acted and crafted by both actors and director. Small wonder that this production was double nominated at the Edinburgh Fringe for Best Actor and Actress in The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence, it well deserves both those nominations. Jot Davies' heart wrenching performance when he is incapacitated and frustrated by his situation is phenomenal. And Kate Donmall really matches him in the second half, as it becomes clear that this is effectively two lives wasted by their tragic change of circumstance.
As the company says on their website, they did not aim to produce a strictly narrative piece but maintain a certain dream-like quality, and that is certainly achieved here. While the subtleties of this production might pass those who like a good story by, it is fantastically well performed and simply conceived. Even James Cotterill's set, including a landscape painted backdrop fading into brush strokes on a canvas, is quietly effective.
This slow burning production leaves you truly affected and is worth seeing for the fine performances alone. Real Circumstances' work is becoming an intriguing nugget of profound dramatic quality, intricately detailed until the end.
Reviewer: Cecily Boys