Friday 5th August 2022 at The Rose and Crown, Kentish Town
Reviewer: Emma Dorfman
Two unlikely friends are stuck in a basement (for this performance, a literal pub basement) awaiting the end of the world. We don’t know much. We don’t know what exactly is going to happen. We don’t yet know how we know it’s even going to happen. All we know is it’s happening at 3:31, and time is running out. Our two protagonists, Julie and Conor, have been friends for what seems like a long time, but there is an intriguing and somewhat eerie distance between them.
Laura Cosmetatos and Isaac Allen play the parts well: nothing forced and nothing melodramatic, which is impressive considering this is an ‘end of the world’ narrative. The scenography, likewise, doesn’t have to work too hard. In The Rose and Crown’s cramped, humid basement, it isn’t difficult to suspend our disbelief that we are in the bunker with Julie and Conor. No set dressing required.
Helena Coggan’s writing is where the true ‘work’ of the piece is being done: some of my favourite bits included Julie’s speech recalling her most vivid childhood memories (‘it was so hot that my tongue tasted of fabric’ is one metaphor that sticks out) and Conor’s expressing the beauty of Julie’s relationship with her girlfriend, Rachel. At times, the poetry is almost too dulcet for my taste (at one point, Conor muses on Rachel’s effortless ability to sift through his soul). However, the flowery language is what elevates the piece and keeps us engaged in this quiet, contained narrative.
The relationship between Conor and Julie perhaps requires more exploration. We see bits and pieces of Conor’s vulnerability through his relationship with his parents, but there’s something about him that hasn’t quite cracked open. His relationship to Julie is also curious. There is a strange distance between them, and I don’t yet quite know why.
As they await the end of the world, their exchanges inch closer and closer to an exploration of bigger questions, and their individual points of view are clear. But it is not yet clear what statement Coggan wishes to make through these characters. Is it about how we spend our time when we have ‘all the time’? Is it about making the most of the smallest connections in our lives? Coggan’s writing has endless patience. She lets us put the pieces together as we move through the action. Perhaps these characters are also still trying to put the pieces together. And maybe, it’s okay if the world ends and we are still trying to figure it out.
Daylight plays The Rose and Crown as part of the Camden Fringe until August 6th 2022 (tickets here) before playing the Edinburgh Festival Fringe between 15-28th August 2022 (tickets here).
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