What goes into an apology, and what comes out of it? The three plays assembled in The Apologists approach these questions from refreshingly different angles. Directed by Jane Moriarty with understated precision, this triple bill of short monologues grapples with the ethics, politics, and semantics of apologies – whether they are private or public, sincere or feigned.
In Iskandar Sharazuddin’s Excuses, the chief executive of the NHS attempts to deliver a public apology in the wake of her racist remarks to a physician. But what begins as a formal speech soon evolves into a candidly messy account of how a mother’s instincts have interfered with her professional profile.
Cordelia O’Neill’s Seven, the Sweetest Hour portrays a travel writer trying to cope with the disastrous aftermath of a negative review she has published about an eccentric B&B. And in New Universe, Lucinda Burnett introduces us to Sienna, an NGO’s head of safeguarding, whose trauma as a rape victim leads her to confront her boss about his failure to apologise for the charity’s misdeeds.
These intense, intricate monologues are brilliantly acted by Gabrielle Scawthorn, whose elegantly differentiated turns enrich Moriarty’s production with a wide palette of emotions. As she navigates an almost bare stage in a series of gripping performances, Saul Valiunas’ meticulously suggestive lights and Rob Donnelly-Jackson’s immersive sound design further flesh out the interior worlds of her tormented characters.
Though each play can get slightly repetitive at times, this concise triptych about guilt, responsibility and atonement has a haunting energy.