The characters in this brooding exploration of parental love, romance and bereavement are permanently on edge – pent-up, sweating and ready to snap. Catching their breath between lines, the cast – Jot Davies, Tamsin Joanna Kennard, and David Tarkenter – can seem like they’ve just run 10k. Maybe it’s because Theatre503 is boiling hot this evening – or perhaps it’s because this is such an intense little production.
Devised by the Colchester-based company, Real Circumstance, and then scripted by director Dan Sherer, it peels back the story of 15-year-old Cleo whose mother has recently died. Aided by an army veteran she meets, she tracks down her estranged father at the docks to tell him the news. Both men are torn between seeing Cleo as a daughter and a girlfriend – a surrogate for someone they’ve lost. This makes for a neat little structure where identities are constantly shifting, but also a world where a middle-aged man seemingly can’t encounter a teenage girl without wanting to sleep with her.
James Cotterill’s nautical set is eerie and minimalist but also oddly soulless. Sherer’s script has some touching scenes and Tarkenter delivers a stand-out monologue, but while the troubled group spend a lot of time talking about their emotions, a deliberately oblique style can make it difficult to really feel them.
Theatre503, London. Until 06 July
Written for The Stage