The Narcissist at Courtyard Theatre
The Narcissist, written and directed by Gavin Davis, holds up a mirror to human chaos. It’s an enjoyable piece, though it ultimately falls a little short of the mark.
Charlie (David Alwyn) begins therapy, as his life is disrupted by his family coming to live with him. His therapist, Rose (Chris Rogers), helps him to understand how he’s feeling, why he’s feeling it and how to move past it. But skipping his last session results in explosive behaviour as Charlie attempts a confrontation that he is not ready for.
The writing begins shakily, with dialogue that is a little false, but it very quickly picks up. Gavin Davis excels in portraying scenes of family chaos with his intimate, believable and destructive writing. And while some of the humour falls flat, subtle familial quirks, particularly teasing between siblings, provide genuinely funny moments throughout.
The message, however, gets lost. It is unclear why Charlie needs therapy. According to Davis, “we must not always blame our mothers, our childhood and parental values”. But Charlie’s mother, Pandora (Helen Bang), is a monster who is the sole culprit for everything going wrong in his life. Rose wanders around in the background, condemning Charlie for his thoughts about his mother, but the audience supports him fully.
While Pandora is in need of some redeeming qualities to qualify the message of the play, most of the characters do have a lot of depth. They are wonderfully flawed human beings, each with a rich past and hopes and worries about the future, and every one is the hero. This is Charlie’s story, but his mother, his brother (Peter Rae), his father (Mike Fenner), his fiancée (Nina Bright) and his therapist are all key, too. It is as much about their lives as it is Charlie’s and each actor, under Davis’ direction, steals the stage when it is their turn to speak, rather than merely supporting. It is refreshing and a better reflection of real life, where everyone is the hero of their own story.
Though the core message is buried, The Narcissist provides an entertaining evening with rich characters and potent family chaos.
The Narcissist is on at Courtyard Theatre from 15th March until 9th April 2016, for further information or to book visit here.