Mar 17 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Dark poetry

Traverse Theatre: Tue 17 – Sat 21 March 2015

Lunchtime theatre returns to the Traverse this week, with a terrible, lyrical roar in Matthew Trevannion’s Leviathan, a collaboration between the Traverse, A Play a Pie and a Pint and Sherman Cymru.

In this desperate, heartfelt yet cold-hearted fragment, three generations of a family are caught, trapped in the sweltering heat of an early summer hot snap out on the back lawn of their Welsh council house.

Gwawr Loader and Claire Cage. Photo  Lesley Black

Gwawr Loader and Claire Cage. Photo: Lesley Black

Karen (Claire Cage) is stuck in the folds of a incongruous lounge chair brought out from the house. Sunk into herself and remembering, remembering as the trains rumble past and the sun pours down.

Mavis (Siw Hughes) twinkles in and out of the house, chatting to her daughter without reply – determined that the weather will break and worse will come soon. Hannah (Gwawr Loader) arrives home, dirty stop-out in her Nan’s eyes, immediately at loggerheads and only able to confide to her mother’s comatose form.

Director Rachel O’Riorden picks over the three women’s lives with an unnerving attention to unspoken pain. Drawing out every tic in their relationships, from the physical of Gwawr Loader’s insouciant blank-eyed stare at her nan to the vocal in Claire Cage’s swooping internal monologues.

layer by sharply biting layer

O’Riorden excels in the pealing of the onion of Trevannion’s narrative, layer by sharply biting layer. Hannah’s truths, revealed in secret to her mother and then blurted out in anger to her nan. Mavis’s twinkling happiness slowly dissolving as the tins of special brew come out.

Both Hughes and Loader give the sort of performances that never let you doubt their characters or the tragedy of their lives. Their pain caught up in self-imposed isolation never finding each other’s hurt. Their men ever present in their lives, yet always absent: a species apart who inflict pleasure and pain without thought or care.

But it is in Cage that the whole production turns. Her monologues providing the necessary link between the generations, the echoes of past and potential future, as she drifts in and out of depression. And with the poetic murmuration of her lines turning harsh as the truth closes in, so the frank honesty of the production stings with unexpectedly raw power.

Running time: 50 minutes
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 17-Saturday 21 March 2015.
Lunchtimes daily: 1pm; evening performance Friday: 7pm.
Tickets and details from: www.traverse.co.uk

Leviathan on tour:
Sherman Cymru
The Sherman Theatre, Senghennydd Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4YE
Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 March 2015.
Daily: 6.30pm
Details and tickets: www.shermancymru.co.uk/


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