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Theatre review: Rigor Mortis 
17th-Dec-2011 08:52 pm
While the winning play in the Papatango competition, Foxfinder, continues as the main show at the Finborough, the next runner-up to get a week's run in repertory is Carol Vine's Rigor Mortis. As cheery as its title, the play sees three generations of a fucked-up family reunited. Patti (Janet Amsden) and Tom (David Whitworth) have been looking after granddaughter Layla (Eleanor Wyld) now in her late teens, since their son Martin, her father, ran off. When Layla's junkie mother dies Martin (Max Gold) returns, but is it a belated attempt to support his daughter or does he want to confront his own issues with his mother? There's some nice use of language in Vine's play including some incongruously poetic bouts of swearing from Layla. The story is very fractured though: The picture of who these people are and the history they share is built up very slowly - I wasn't exactly sure who everyone was to each other until nearly halfway in (though I don't know if this is entirely down to how it's written or partly because I had trouble hearing parts of Amsden's long opening speech.) Once this is all established (although, well-performed though it is, I never figured out how Layla's sexually teasing relationship with a younger boy [Rupert Simonian] fitted into things) we get some revelations about events in Martin's childhood and how it affected his relationship with his mother; these just add to the fragmented nature of the storytelling. Coupled with the relentlessly bleak tone, this is a hard play to love.

Rigor Mortis by Carol Vine is in repertory until the 18th of December at the Finborough Theatre.
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