Abigail, Bunker Theatre – Review

3-stars

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Tia Bannon and Mark Rose

If you save a life, you are responsible for that life forever so says the ancient proverb. Before their lives intersected, a middle-aged man (Mark Rose) had travel plans: a bucket list of all the remote places he would like to visit in his lifetime. Then he met Abigail (Tia Bannon), a younger woman who only meant to go on a ‘one-way trip’ to Berlin. From that day onwards, he was her whole world and she was his…

Directed by the Bunker’s Artistic Director Joshua McTaggart, Fiona Doyle’s Abigail is not straightforward by any means. Jumping back and forth at different points of the relationship, the narrative is more akin to Slaughterhouse Five, The Time Traveller’s Wife or Blue Valentine. Even so, clues… or rather slight suggestions are given regarding Abigail’s background, leaving the audience much to speculate about her past.

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Photos: Anton Belmonte for 176 Flamingo Lane

Any relationship where one person ‘loves’ the other person more, there is an imbalance of power. In the case of this play, it is the man who makes most of the concessions and projects his idealised view of Abigail without knowing the real woman. However, in the scenes denoting the end of the relationship, it is Abigail who is unwilling to call it a day and she is not going to let him walk away that easily…

Tonally, the play reminded me of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s The Woman Before and Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken, what with Doyle’s themes of unhappiness, the ‘mountaintop’ experience versus the mundane, and being haunted by the ‘ghosts’ of the past. Nothing is clear cut, except perhaps that Abigail’s past casts a large shadow over her present actions. This leads to a persistent undercurrent of tension that never quites dissipates. With more explicit motivations, the play as a whole would be easier to pigeonhole. As it is, the ‘not knowing’ creates a Pinteresque dread…

© Michael Davis 2017

Abigail runs at the Bunker Theatre, London until 4th Febuary 2017.

PS: Each night after Abigail, there is a creative response – either a piece of music or short play. These events are free for ticket-holders.

POST-SHOW EVENTS SCHEDULE:
Saturday 21st January 2017 (matinee and evening) – ANTHONY MATSENA DANCE.
A physically demanding duet that deals with the questions of power within a relationship through a disjointed narrative. Who is alpha?

Tuesday 24th January 2017 – SPLIT (‘work-in-progress’ performance).
A comedy by Tamar Broadbent and Emma Pritchard.

Wednesday 25th January 2017 – BOOK, MUSIC & LYRICS.
A Musical Theatre response by Mark Wainwright and Rosalyn Miller.

Thursday 26th January 2017 – PINT-SIZED PLAYS.
A response written by David Ralf & directed by Rafaella Marcus.

Friday 27th January 2017 – SPLIT (‘work in progress’ performance).
A comedy by Tamar Broadbent and Emma Pritchard.

Saturday 28th January 2017 (matinee and evening) – ANTHONY MATSENA DANCE.
A physically demanding duet that deals with the questions of power within a relationship through a disjointed narrative. Who is alpha?

Wednesday 1st February 2017 – BOOK, MUSIC & LYRICS
A Musical Theatre response by Joanna Taylor and Adey Grummet.

Thursday 2nd February 2017 – PINT-SIZED PLAYS­­­­­­­­­­­
A response written by Margaret Perry & directed by Andy McNamee.

Saturday 4th February 2017 (matinee and evening) – ANTHONY MATSENA DANCE.
A physically demanding duet that deals with the questions of power within a relationship through a disjointed narrative. Who is alpha?

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