The really sad thing about Penelope Skinner’s tragicomic Eigengrau is that, in the nine years since it opened at London’s Bush Theatre, it doesn’t seem to have aged in the slightest.
The play tells the stories of a quartet of unfortunate characters living a life adrift in the city, and the way they stumble around, desperately eager for connection with other people, still rings very true. There are flashes of classicism in the writing too, as the tragedy gradually takes on Grecian proportions.
Director Georgie Staight’s simply staged production for Dark Skies Theatre nails the pathos underscoring Skinner’s often humorous dialogue. The cast members give sensitive performances that capture each twist and turn of this urban nightmare with toe-curling honesty.
Isabel Della-Porta is a tightly coiled spring as warm, but wary, Cassie. There’s a sense that her mission to be less confrontational is clawing away at her insides and yet the moment she lets her guard down, she falls for the same pathetic banter as Katie Buchholz’ hapless, frustratingly naive Rose.
Tim’s crippling grief for his nan appears very real in a devastating performance from Callum Sharp, as does the relentless, cut-throat sexual opportunism of George Fletcher’s marketing demon Mark.
The scene changes are smoothly executed and sound designer Johnny King has created an eerie soundscape in which adverts are blended uncomfortably with porn.
The play may not break new ground thematically, but the performances here are spot-on, capturing the sense of failure and compromise that permeates the play.