The Theatreguide.London Review
Weigh's new play is about different forms of grieving, about religious
faith or nonbelief, about life choices for women, and about the role
and function of architecture. If these various strands don't always
feel comfortable in the same play, they are all individually thought-
madman with a gun
killed the children in a village schoolhouse, and a female architect
has been charged with creating a memorial. After proper consultation
with the community she has chosen a stark design that forces viewers to
recognise and be unable to forget the tragedy, but now she is accosted
by one grieving mother who demands a more uplifting and religious
mother (who is,
for no absolutely clear reason, blind) is deeply religious and
conservative, antagonistic not only to the design but to the
architect's secularism and even to her choice of a career over
domesticity. The architect in turn varies between annoyance at this
interruption, patronisation of this simple provincial, and disdain for
so the debates
between them, repeatedly switching between the theoretical and the
personal, are always good, and the playwright guides us to see the
right and wrong on each side without allowing us too-easy preferences.
third figure, an
intern in the architect's firm, is there just to help move the action
along and to make an out-of-character speech near the end suggesting a
third position, that form follows function and architecture should not
be thought of as carrying any meaning beyond its utility.)
to make of the play is that it does seem at times a jumble of three or
four separate arguments. The proposed memorial may be the occasion for
these other issues to be addressed, but it is not a successful metaphor
for them - as the intern suggests, it doesn't carry enough meaning in
itself to resonate and embrace the other themes of the drama.
Josie Rourke, both central characters are presented in all their
sometimes self-contradictory complexity. Sarah Smart accomplishes the
difficult task of making it clear that the mother is barking mad while
still establishing the reality of her pain and her faith, and retaining
some sympathy for her. Deborah Findlay gives the architect all the
reasonable rightness in the debates while exposing the prejudices and
feeling of superiority that gradually begin to undercut her position.
Only Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been directed to play the intern as a clichéd airhead, making it difficult to believe she'd get the job or be capable of her last-minute burst of wisdom.
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- Like a Fishbone - Bush 2010