The Delirium of Phobos
J F Cornes (Franklyn Jacks)
Carnival of Eternal Light
The King's Arms , Salford
Phobos was the god and personification of fear and panic. Even such a malign deity would struggle to dream up the hardship recently inflicted on the GM Fringe—denied funding and compelled by lockdown to postpone productions for a second time.
Author J F Cornes does not link The Delirium of Phobos to the legendary god. Rather The Delirium is a kind of neverland or nexus through which a protagonist travels and encounters people who help and hinder her quest. At least I think that is the case. A combination of strong accents and soft voices limits clarity so it is hard to be sure what is going on—including at the climax where plot strands are drawn together, and conclusions formed.
Beastburden the Fairy (Christina Charcharidi) is hunted by humans because of her name and stumbles into The Delirium while seeking a mythical cascade in which her porcelain tears will be transformed into the real thing. Along the way, she bumps into characters who are real-life (John Lennon—without a Liverpool accent and in his Bagism phase—and Edward Lear) and fictional—the personification of Art and a nurse who is working towards being transformed into an angel.
Fantasy is a hard genre to enact in theatre. Audiences need elaborate sets or vivid storylines to help them suspend disbelief. As a fringe company, Carnival of Eternal Light lacks the resources for the former and the plot of the play is vague.
The Delirium of Phobos lacks an overall theme to draw the concepts together. It becomes, therefore, a loose collection of ideas some of which are expressed in a trite Hallmark Card manner—‘’You are where you are’’ or ‘’There is only here and now’’. The play is divided into chapters, each preceded by recorded speeches taken from real life. At least one assumes that is the case; the speakers are not identified, and Lennon’s was the only voice I recognised. Yet there is nothing in the action that follows to link to the themes set out in the speeches so one wonders as to their purpose.
There is some soft political comment with nurses bouncing on beds as part of the process by which they will be transformed into angels. Author J F Cornes uses aspects of absurdity but without any of the humour or silliness associated with the genre so there are no laughs to lighten the mood. The play remains obscure rather than profound with concepts expressed briefly and then discarded as others come along.
It is very hard to determine the target audience for The Delirium of Phobos. The vague nature and lack of humour leads to the conclusion there is less here than meets the eye.
Reviewer: David Cunningham