My Eyes Went Dark at the Finborough
Matthew Wilkinson has written and directed a play that scoops out the human psyche with the darkest of shovels and forces man (in this case one man) to face up to it. My Eyes Went Dark is based on the chilling true events of a Russian architect whose wife and two children were killed in a plane crash when it collided with another one in midair. Holding the air traffic controller responsible, he eventually murders him and serves time in jail, maintaining a fugue-like memory loss over the killing, before being released and regarded as something of a hero back in his hometown of Ossetia.
Receiving its world premiere run upstairs in the Finborough Arms, Cal MacAninch stars as lead character Nikolai Koslov, with a protean Thusitha Jayasundera assuming various roles, including Koslov’s wife and doctor. The small stage is no-frills at best: two black plastic chairs opposite one another, each behind a rack of six spotlights. The show spans five years and three countries, meaning regular changes of scene that are implied to the audience on either side through light and sound. The quick shuffling back and forth of time in these jumps, although giving it a filmic quality, is initially disorientating; once accustomed to it, the strength of the acting and the power of the story really set in.
Despite his crime, Koslov is a sympathetic character — how can anyone imagine the loss he is going through? But he is also blind: blind to pain he has caused and blind to the agonising pleas of his victim’s daughter in one of the disturbing final scenes. For a 90 minute, interval-free play with only two actors, there is always the hanging danger of losing concentration, actor or spectator, particularly with the intensity of it. MacAninch and Jayasundera offer two equally gifted performances, though, glibly dispelling any of these concerns and doing so with only one tiny prop towards the end (when, on occasion, one or two others might have been helpful to them).
This is a show that asks questions about justice and forgiveness, loss and blame, and even revenge. It answers none, but it never sets out to — only to explore what it is to be haunted by pain.
Photos: Bronwen Sharp
My Eyes Went Dark is on at Finborough Theatre from 25th August until 19th September 2015, for further information or to book visit here.