by Joe Ward Munrow.
Liverpool Playhouse Studio Williamson Square L1 1EL To 1 December 2012.
Mon; Wed–Sat 7.45pm Tue 5.30pm Mat Sat 2pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 0151 709 4776.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 November.
New play enhances the significant Everyman/Playhouse premieres league.
I don’t know. You wait (without realising it) years for a new play made entirely of fragmented mini-scenes, then two come along together. It makes for a fascinating, if long-distance, comparison and contrast, for the path to a relationship in Nick Payne’s Constellations (Duke of York’s, London) treads very different ground from Joe Ward Munrow’s début at Liverpool Playhouse studio.
Munrow is looking at consequences rather than possibilities. Two sons, contrasting in temperament, and regard from their mother Mary, both now middle-aged enough to know themselves and each other, try to communicate with her in her age.
They sit on plain chairs staggered around a sliver of stage between two groups of audience. In contrast, Mary’s enthroned on a seat which seems carved into a tree, established like a bird surveying its surrounds. And there’s something birdlike, especially in profile, about Pauline Daniels as she sits intently, head jerking suddenly between directions, eyes seeming to stare inquiringly at whatever’s attracted attention.
But the concentration’s deceptive. Mary’s mind is long gone and, however important she remains in their lives, her sons cannot make contact with her. It’s rare the three are placed together, most usually in scenes glancing back to earlier years when relationships were as they should be.
More frequently, it’s one son facing her, or the two men talking through the situation, Alan Stocks’ Simon the more withdrawn and formal, Ged McKenna’s David more open in emotion and language.
Brief scenes in the present end with a flare and crackle, less an electrical short than another synapse going. It’s one way Lorne Campbell’s production jolts its audience; another is the layout of chairs, expressive of situations where characters confront issues along with each other, or find themselves separated in space and direction. The effect is fragmentary and uncomfortable for us in finding an ever-shifting focus, as it is for the characters, none of them ever seated at ease.
Mary’s final exit is unconventional, but memorable in its unassertive, almost casual quality – another example of Campbell’s use of all the Playhouse Studio’s resources for this intense and compact play.
Mary: Pauline Daniels.
David: Ged McKenna.
Simon: Alan Stocks.
Director: Lorne Campbell.
Designer: Katie Scott.
Lighting: Andy Webster.
Sound: Jennifer Tallon-Cahill.