This solo piece, written and performed by Jonathan R. Parsonage, is prefaced, as its audience arrives, by a blank stage with candles, and music at a volume level that hurts, literally, the ears of anyone as old as this critic.
Why is not clear; perhaps just to encourage us to expect the unexpected.
The performance itself, thankfully, begins at a less painful volume. It centres on a seemingly ordinary young man, Eden, as he walks from his Mum’s house to the chip shop and back.
This may sound banal, but not in the hands of Mr Parsonage. His progress is accompanied by his descriptions of his dissatisfaction with life, with relationships, with Mum, and even with chips.
All this is done in a bravura display of what one might call avant-garde acting, with frequent eerie lighting changes to heighten the atmosphere of strangeness.
The language of the script is meticulously written, sometimes almost poetic (And if you think it’s not possible to talk like that about fried fish batter, think again).
His comments on class, age, family, and his fetish for women’s underwear begin to take on a hypnotic quality, punctuated by outbursts of anger and pain, but also occasional slightly warped humour.
But what he finds when he returns to the house is a massive shock, worthy of any Jacobean tragedy – and the latter part of the piece is one long drawn-out agonised roar of gut-wrenching pain, graphic horror, grief and guilt.
Strong stuff: this is not theatre for the faint-hearted.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Reviewer: John Christopher Wood | Star rating: ***