No two relationships are the same. They are incredibly complicated, and can be quite unpredictable. Fiona Doyle‘s Abigail examines this idea and places the relationship between a woman in her 20s and a man in his 40s under the microscope.
Surrounded by a limitless amount of cardboard boxes, these two protagonists (Tia Bannon and Mark Rose) unearth blemishes in their relationship; the most troubling being Abigail’s use of violence to wield power. Ideas are automatically subverted as there could be an assumption that due to his age, the male would be the one wielding power. This is smart as it is unexpected and highlights that tragically domestic violence can happen to anyone, no matter their age or gender. Doyle is careful to tackle a poignant issue, and Bannon unveils a villainous being worth hating, however the chemistry between the two cast members feels more like a friendship. This in turn doesn’t fully allow for there to be an emotional connection between the audience and the narrative.
Snippets of when the couple first met and their dark future intertwine, and this, in itself is the making of a great play but doesn’t reach its true potential. Presenting ‘the everyday’ is refreshing, this isn’t a play looking to throw in gimmicks to create intensity, instead it presents love as apart of the everyday, and makes you question what you would tolerate before you’d decided that you’d had enough. Themes of power, identity, motherhood and love are present and subtle, as they would be in daily life but for dramatic purposes could truly simmer and strike but doesn’t. Bannon’s character suffers a traumatic event, and this softens her momentarily from her steely persona. She quickly hardens, and I’m left questioning how this has echoed throughout their relationship. It’s only shortly observed, however this could really humanise this pairing even more so.
Max Dorey‘s staging, consisting of a carboard box microcosm grips the audience’s attention. There’s a sense of compartmentalising memory, and that you never quite know what memory will be unearthed next. There’s a futuristic minimalism that’s quite eerie but leaves you questioning. Abigail is a story with promise. 3/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Abigail is currently showing at The Bunker Theatre until Saturday 4th February. For more information on the production, visit here…