Mad Man Sad Woman at The Space
Chilean playwright Juan Radrigán’s Mad Man Sad Woman tells the story of an alcoholic, Huinca, and a prostitute, Eva, who both wake up hungover in a house that’s due to be demolished.
Unaware of the building’s fate and with nowhere to go, the two stay and argue and blame one another for the way their lives have led them to this point. Through tears and turmoil the newly acquainted couple reminisce, dream, insult, hope and remain there to set up a home. Despite the highs and the echoing lows, the audience never quite feels comfortable amidst this bizarre union, knowing intuitively that good fortune does not often lay itself on those in such solemn and dire straits.
We are brought into the chaos of the characters’ lives, seated directly around what looks like a stone pit where the pair wake under dirty blankets, surrounded by their meagre possessions, in the aftermath of their drinking binge.
Huinca, with only days to live, is played manically by Bil Stuart; his character is aggressive, spewing insults, and his lack of warmth is highlighted by Eva (Sadie Shimmin) who struggles desperately with where her life is at, the kindness on her worn features a sign she still hopes for love, children and possessions.
The props are few and far between, the music seldom, there are no other characters, no interval and there is nowhere to hide. The story does have lighter, much-needed moments of relief: when Eva reminisces about her childhood, or when Huinca recalls a wonderful street he walked down. Wry humour also appears and the audience is grateful for each gleam of light in the darkness – “I’m stiff, I feel like I’ve been dipped in cement,” says Huinca as he struggles with his cirrhosis.
Despite living on the outskirts of life, the duo finally have a place that is theirs and, in a sense, someone to call their own. But coming to that realisation is what has made Huinca the mad man and Eva the sad woman and it is what makes this play increasingly perturbing and powerful.
Mad Man Sad Woman is at The Space from 21st June until 8th July. For further information or to book visit here.