Review by Tulis McCall
(12 Nov 2010)
Beatrice and Jack are twins - twisted twins to be exact. Their last known relatives, Mum and Dad, have just died in an auto accident, and by the time this play concludes you wonder if maybe it wasn’t a double suicide. These two kids are straight out of a Stephen King novel. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Our story starts after the funeral of the departed parents. There being no grandparents, aunts or uncles, the parental duty has fallen to their Godmother Sophie (Jennifer Kidd). Sophie is a reluctant but willing guardian, and getting to know the children is her first priority. This is easier said than done as Beatrice (Louise Collins) and Jack (Stephen Meo) act more like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee than grieving children. Sophie would be better equipped with a whip and chair than with open arms.
Hywel John’s text is spare in all the right ways. The children are revealed to us inch by inch. At first they are in “the mourning” for Mum and Dad. They each cling to a solitary book, one red one blue, as their buffer against the world for which they don’t care much. They depend on one another for badinage, bickering and keeping their parents alive in their memories. They dance rings around Sophie with dialogue that is reminiscent of Becket. The conversations double back on themselves like a snake swallowing its own tail. Eventually dark secrets are revealed and Sophie ends up with the seriously short end of the stick.
Staged in the postage stamp sized Theatre C at 59E59, where someday I predict they will turn a closet into another fabulous theatre, such are their magician-like skills, this production seems larger than it is. Kate Wasserberg’s direction borders on choreography and makes excellent use of the tiny stage. The story drops like flower petals at our feet and becomes a carpet of mystery without us noticing until we are up to our necks in the tale. Each of the actors brings clarity and definition to their characters, which adds a certain edginess to the production. This is a fable that swerves dangerously close to reality. While you might want to push the story off as fiction, these actors deliver characters that demand to be heard.
The play comes close to succeeding brilliantly but teeters off the edge with a final scene that pushes us just a bit too far. What was bordering on reality is tossed over for a conclusion that belies the delicate balance John achieved.
The production runs a great race and looses by a nose. Not bad for a first play. Not bad at all.