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Mydidae review at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – ‘captivating performances’

David Gregan-Jones, Hollie-Jay Bowes in Mydidae at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester. Photo: Shay Rowan

David and Marian’s bathroom is spacious and sumptuous. His and hers sinks and a roll-top bath hint at the couple’s outward prosperity. Almost symmetrical in layout, the scenery reflects the even balance of power between David and Marian at the start of Jack Thorne’s quietly terrifying 2012 play Mydidae, originally staged at Soho Theatre with Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

As the play progresses, the action is propelled forwards by shifts in control between the pair. The interplay between the leads is convincing. There’s an easy intimacy to their petty squabbles and the way their fast-moving dialogue overlaps as they speak to each other – but fail to listen – feels genuine.

It would be easy to dislike David, but David Gregan-Jones has a gentle warmth that makes Marian’s attraction to him believable. Hollie-Jay Bowes is excellent too, skilfully using tone of voice to show the instability of Marian’s character – she can be both condescending and hilariously self-deprecating. As clothing is shed and the couple enter the bath, Marian’s inner vulnerability and David’s hidden volatility are powerfully revealed.

It’s a shame that ominous music and lighting signpost the dark undertones from the start rather than allowing realisation to dawn on the audience organically. It’s also disappointing that dialogue is at times forced to compete with unnecessary sound effects in a play that demands close attention to the subtext and subtleties of the words being spoken. Leaving aside these minor gripes, Laura Woodward’s production is strong and well-paced, the compelling performances draw out the humanity within Thorne’s troubling play.

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A captivatingly performed revival of Jack Thorne's bathroom drama