Abby Gorton, Anna Forsyth, C Soco, Dennis Lumborg, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Euan Forsyth, George Ronayne, Jake Addley, Kennedy Assassination, Liverpool, Melancholy., One Fine Day, Paedophilia, Social Worker, The Mourning Party, Theatre Review
Tychy saw two plays this afternoon, but unfortunately length was the sticking point with both of them. Anna Forsyth’s “The Mourning Party,” which is presently playing in C Soco, was too short, or rather it seemed to be too short. Three lonely and disconnected characters come together in a bar at the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. Perhaps they could establish some sort of club to honour Kennedy’s memory and keep aflame the clarity which they had shared after his death. But at the appointed hour of the second meeting, only one of the characters shows up.
And that’s it? As my mobile flickered back into life, I realised that the play had been over forty-five minutes long, but as hard as I racked my brains, I was honestly struggling to recall how they had filled the time. There was a scene in which a salesman (George Ronayne) receives a blowjob and fakes a pitiful orgasm. A wooden actor (Euan Forsyth, so to speak) grows ever more crabby over his failure to get a foothold in his profession. One can hardly blame the cast, because they have not really been given any characters to speak of. We grab a fleeting glance at forlorn, Willy Loman Americans and their comfortless national destiny, which perhaps reflects something of the current disappointment with Obama. If nothing else, the play ponders that Obama may as well have been assassinated, given how useless he has been, but “The Mourning Party” is otherwise bathed in the cold, thin lustre of a bar painted by Edward Hopper.
“One Fine Day,” on the other hand, was too long. I should here take great care to cast no shadow over the sole actor Jake Addley, whose captivating performance almost makes this show fly, and it is very fine to watch a young actor square up to such a challenging role. Addley plays a young Liverpudlian father, Eddie, who is anxious to show his children how much he loves both them and their mother, so that they will not find love shameful later in their lives. The little ones bathe with their father, and they watch their parents making love. Enter the state, whose values are upheld by some plausibly paranoid and authoritarian social workers, and Eddie is duly torn from those whom he loves.
This monologue was written by Dennis Lumborg and first performed in 1995. Perhaps Addley feels obliged to stump up a Liverpudlian accent, but it initially lacks the oomph of some genuine Scouse quacking. A little later, however, he seems to have cracked it. One suspects that the emotionally unsophisticated Eddie could only be a Scouser – in any other city, he would be simply an idiot – but this story was unable to sustain the ambiguity that is crucial to his character.
Eddie’s sentimentality may seem boring and rather cheesy, but the way that his face glows when he talks about bathing his children and our inability to verify the truth of his narrative, leaves the ghost of some unsavoury possibility hovering distantly over him. Addley should have left him naked – behind the pure, empty beauty of a child or one of William Blake’s angels – so that only the audience could have passed judgement upon this blank character, but the play decides to answer many of our questions about Eddie for itself. The suspense is ruined, the story becomes a mess, but whilst Eddie slips through our fingers, we can at least admire Addley.