A stream of Southern Gothic runs slow and hot through Lisa D’Amour’s play, first performed in Texas in 2001. A tang of rust and blood.
Ten-year-old Annabella lives with her reclusive mother Irene in a deserted trailer park. The trailer is more than their home, it’s their world, but it’s about to be swept away by the construction of a new freeway. Change is coming; disruption is inevitable.
The writing slips back and forth between the realm of the fantastic and a more recognisable depiction of America. Annabella brings a creature into existence: a girl made of mud, a golem, but also a repository for all the things bubbling within her; Irene has a werewolf inside her, a primal power, equipped with teeth and claws. Policemen morph into monsters.
The three performers – Beverly Rudd, Gabrielle Brooks and Natasha Cottriall – sit on chairs perched on top of Anna Lewis’ set, a concrete island on a puddle of mud. Brooks is goofy and fizzy as Anna Bella; Rudd substantial and warm as her mother; Cottriall diamond-eyed and uncanny as the thing they decide to name Anna Bella Eema.
The writing is vivid and sticky – the trailer is described as “hot as the inside of a wolf’s mouth” – but a long sequence in which Annabella goes on a dream-quest, encountering owls and racoons, is almost too surreal. Jessica Lazar’s otherwise atmospheric production gets bogged down in it; the pacing becomes sluggish.
The use of music, of harmonising between the three performers, is strikingly beautiful and a sense of wildness, magic and the turbulence of adolescence permeates the piece.