Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester; Tuesday 19th February, 2019
Marian (Hollie-Jay Bowes) and David (David Gregan-Jones) are one of those couples. So, they’re like totally comfortable using the toilet in front of each other, but being one of those couples it’s probably something that they’ll need to tell everyone else about. David seems most keen on the toilet talk, specifically about why his piss doesn’t smell of the asparagus that they both had for dinner last night.
To be fair, their bathroom does look quite impressive: a visually-pleasing jigsaw puzzle comprised of every shade of pastel blue that IKEA offers. And centre-stage is a large, free-standing bath where, being one of those couples, Marian and David choose to relax and unwind with a few glasses of £6-a-bottle red wine.
Two things stand out about this relationship: from the outset it’s clear that they’re both trying a little bit too hard; this eventually leads to a frustrating realisation that it’s not going to last and they’re both wasting their time.
David is far too obsessed with his job, evidenced by inane telephone conversations regarding sales strategies and the need for “more information”; Marian is fretting over what meaning lies behind her terrifying dreams of masturbating grass people and being cut open with scissors.
It all seems to start off as idle bathroom banter, but the couple’s conversation contains multiple pointers to a long and seemingly painful history – little clues that suddenly appear, much like the bubbles occasionally popping in the frothy bath foam.
Though Mydidae only runs for an hour, the tension grows gently and imperceptibly as more is gradually revealed about each individual. What appears to to be the pitiful and sometimes pathetic bickering of one of those couples culminates in an extraordinary scene of brutality which, in an instant, immediately transforms this show – Mydidae goes from being a deep study of a failing relationship into something far darker and altogether more horrifying.
Writer Jack Thorne named the play after a species of giant fly – one that apparently mimics the stinging behaviours of other species despite not actually possessing the venomous weaponry required. As a stage performance, Mydidae is very much the real deal – a creepy, crawly fly-on-the-wall bathroom intrusion with a genuinely shocking sting in its tail.
Photography: Shay Rowan
|Visual pleasure||Played out entirely in an elegant looking bathroom with a symmetric set of his and hers mirrors that seemed to split the stage visually – aiding and abetting the sense of separation that existed between the lead characters. Excellent lighting effects to not only cut the scenes but also darken the mood.||4|
|Auditory pleasure||Only the tiniest snippets of incidental music and sound effects which, on reflection, clearly carried a theme of sinister unpleasantness but which, at the time, didn’t really give the game away in terms of building up to what was about to come.||4|
|Architecture & Theme||An incredible plot, one which starts rather conventionally with a lot of he-said, she-said nonsense but which twists dramatically at the end. The ending itself is somewhat of an anti-climax, almost disappointing in a way, leaves a sense that justice has not been done.||4|
|Artistic delivery||Two excellent performances, both actors working together to create the genuinely believable spectacle of a couple in a doomed relationship. Both characters seemed at ease with each other as you would expect any couple to be, yet both showed behaviours and body language which betrayed their underlying problems.||4|
|Overall impact||An excellent piece of writing, an unusual storyline with an unexpected twist and final outcome. A welcome change to the usual formula of theatrical love stories and certainly the anti-Valentines show that it said it would be.||4|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|