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Flycatcher review at the Hope Theatre, London – ‘interestingly unnerving’

Scene from Flycatcher at Hope Theatre, London
Scene from Flycatcher at Hope Theatre, London
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The town is an everytown – judging by the accents, it could be anywhere in Britain or America. The set gives no clues: it is bare, black, partitioned by white strips along the floor. Two chairs, a table and a telephone with a functioning answerphone service are the only props. The characters wear clothes that would be appropriate from the late 1990s onwards, but the cultural referents are the films of Grace Kelly and a sort of late 1980s club scene.

The plot of Gregg Masuak’s Flycatcher is a similar jumble of impressions, one-liners and scenes in which the characters fail to connect on a sentence by sentence level.

Sometimes this is interestingly unnerving, serving to underline the alienation of the protagonists and the timeless and often dislocating nature of emotional estrangement; more often, it’s just confusing.

Madelaine (Emily Arden), lonely, cruel, intelligent, lives with her grandmother Mae (Fiz Marcus). She falls for wetly charismatic life insurance salesman Bing (Alex Shenton). Bing, however, is in love with art dealer Olive (Amy Newton), who spends her time pining after another man.

This is all in the first act of Masuak’s production, and while there’s a certain dragging verbosity to the telling of it, there’s also poignancy, humour and recognisable psychological truth. But by the second act – in which Madelaine concocts a plan to bring the two together, and, ultimately, drive them apart for her own gain – the emotional veracity is gone, leaving only histrionics. Though it has the atmosphere of a comedy noir, Flycatcher trips itself up on its journey through the darkness in the human heart.

 

Verdict
Jumbled and frustrating new play enlivened by some great one-liners
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