Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: Breathing Corpses (Oberon Modern Plays)

Breathing Corpses (Oberon Modern Plays) Breathing Corpses (Oberon Modern Plays) by Laura Wade
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Saw this at Beckenham Theatre Centre. It wasn't bad (and it was impeccably acted) and it was imaginatively structured, but the character arcs didn't work for me.

Part of the problem was the way it was sold to me: three sets of characters that are mysteriously intertwined. To me, the link was obvious within seconds, so there is no great 'reveal'.

Jim and Elaine's scenes didn't work dramatically: Jim is cheerfully hen-pecked in his first scene and suicidally depressed in his second, after finding a body. Kate also finds a body in equally (if not more) gruesome circumstances, yet her reaction is mere annoyance. Jim is psychologically destroyed; Kate is unaffected. Yet there is no development in Jim's psyche: we don't see how or why he went from normal to suicidal. Similarly, his partner Elaine goes from being self-absorbed and shrewish to attentive and loving (although there's still some selfishness in her concern for Jim, so it's not a total personality transplant).

Amy is amiable but her first scene is a bit dull. If she hadn't been so beautifully played then I would have found the scene interminable.

On the positive side, the dialogue is witty, well-paced and tightly written, and the circular structure of the timeline is imaginative and perfectly constructed. Some playgoers might find the inevitable anachronism confusing, but as Wisehammer says in Our Country's Good, "People with no imagination shouldn't go to the theatre."

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