Circles at the Tricycle Theatre
Set on Birmingham’s number 11 circular bus route, Rachel De-lahay’s Circles looks at one family’s inability to break out of a cycle of domestic violence and miscommunication.
The story begins at the top of a bus with two teenagers, Demi and Malachi, teasing and flirting with each other in typical adolescent fashion. At first the audience is unsure what Demi wants with Malachi, who is harmless but irritating. However, as the play continues we see there is something more ominous and violent lurking underneath the surface of this developing friendship.
Running parallel to this seemingly innocent banter is a scene set elsewhere in Birmingham, where 30-year-old Angela arrives at her mother Phyllis’ house to seek shelter from an abusive relationship. Instead of discussing Angela’s injuries or the reason she is there, the pair instead talk about inane subjects, such as new haircuts or gadgets bought from the market.
De-lahay’s script is at times limited, and conversation between Demi and Malachi can be stereotypical to the point of cringeworthy. Although both of the characters are well developed and recognisable, the language doesn’t flow naturally and it’s clear that the playwright did not come from a similar type of background herself. What she is much better at capturing, however, is the mother-daughter relationship of Angela and Phyllis. Real communication is supplanted by small talk and there is an underlying disconnection between the two women.
The acting in this performance is brilliant, lifting a gloomy script into the realms of black comedy. Toyin Kinch shines as Malachi, striking the balance just right between loveable and irritating, and bringing genius moments of comedy to the production. Janice McKenzie is superb, making us laugh as well as cry with her portrayal of the vulnerable and embittered Phyllis.
De-lahay’s play is a showcase of two intertwining stories. Delve slightly further than this and one can see how it pushes at the cyclical nature of domestic violence, and the importance of communication in breaking this cycle.
Circles is at Tricycle Theatre until 14th June 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Circles here: