Mydidae at Trafalgar Studios
Amidst the monuments and touristic glamour of Whitehall, it’s easy to see Trafalgar Studios, the gaily-lit marquees, an inviting non sequitur in the largely municipal area. Mydidae, a new play by BAFTA winner Jack Thorne, is staged in a bathroom constructed in the 100-seat space just below the street. This play is a complex two-hander full of familiarity, humour and dread. The bathroom set (with hot and cold running water, a scale, shelves, a toilet and floss) is home to Marian and David (Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Keir Charles), who shave, argue, live with frivolity, and bathe together over the course of a day in what might otherwise be a fairly typical, if somewhat shallow, relationship: the whole world boiled down to a few hours in an ultra-realistic bathroom.
Of course “real” in theatre is a liminal thing in the most authentic sense of the word. A bathmat, a claw-foot tub, an Ikea cabinet – these are all artefacts of life. Yet here they are transformed. They become something else, signifiers of the concept of “realness”. They tell us this is meant to be an actual place populated by people doing truthful things. But in this twilit world of lighting grids and seating banks, real seems somehow oddly out of place. We know it’s not a real bathroom, even if it is a real bath, and that makes it stand out a little. And these tremors shiver throughout the production: the muffled sound of a pre-recorded trickle of urine sends shockwaves through our belief, the neat arrangement of candles and wine glasses on a tray too rehearsed to be honest.
But these are trifling concerns, really – nits being picked when what we’re really dancing around is the creeping sense of discomfort woven by two fantastic actors, whose realness somehow shines through all of these cracks and rivets us as they dance across the pages of Thorne’s world. We are held, grimaces plastered on our faces.
We’re intentionally not saying too much about what happens in this one, because to do so would be giving too much away. We can say that there is both horror and touchingly familiar intimacy in Mydidae; humour, sympathy, and some of the most effective silence we’ve seen on stage in some time. Realness, nudity, sex and violence may be theatrical gimmicks but they are no less dramatic for it. And drama, after all, is what we go to the theatre for.
Photos: Richard Lakos
Mydidae is at Trafalgar Studios, Studio 2 until 30th March 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.