The Knot at Old Red Lion Theatre
Dan Daniel’s original production of The Knot is a quick and cutting portrayal of the aching burdens that can crush a relationship. Two seemingly distinct characters find themselves recounting parallel experiences of loss and lament, illustrating that relationships are much more than just those in love: they extend to family, culture, religion, technology and even government.
Call centre manager Imran and failing actor Aiden take turns to reflect on their present circumstances as both find themselves out of love and at the mercy of forces greater than themselves. The limited space allowed by The Old Red Lion requires an imaginative approach and Daniel rises to the challenge, smartly using spotlights to indicate the more intimate – often irate – moments communicated through phone calls. With only two actors, however, the frequent he-said she-said structure quickly becomes repetitive, detracting from the convincing, confessional tone that characterises the majority of the play.
Crossing between a probing, anecdotal investigation of the limits of love and a one-sided, self-indulgent pity-fest, this drama regularly blurs the fictional and the real. However, many of the fraught issues that populate the piece – fidelity, distance, devotion – are familiar anxieties that colour many relationships and Daniel’s writing treats them with humourous levity without running roughshod over the more profound scenes. Of these, Aiden, played by the adaptable Caolán Dundon, repeatedly lambasts the alienating effect of distance mediated through technology. Meanwhile, Aylaz Ahmed’s hard-up Imran pronounces the mature realities of families out of joint. Together, they produce some of the most entertaining interactions in the show, either as stand-ins for each other’s memories or the characters’ unfortuitous meeting.
Daniel’s play is thoughtful and entertaining but only within the limits set by a lack of resources. The consistent monologues only offer a narrow insight and the eclipse the possibility of a really universal portrayal of the trials and tribulations of relationships. To go bolder with scale and scope could make The Knot a truly potent portrayal of people at their most vulnerable.
The Knot is at Old Red Lion Theatre from 18th June until 6th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.