This review was originally written for The Public Review.
Freefall is the umbrella title given to the two new one act plays which deal with the aftermath of losing someone. Each approaches the subject matter in different ways. First up is The Bear, The Owl and The Angel by Becky Prestwich. It is set in a bedroom of someone who has passed away recently and is being emptied by two brothers. Their relationship, the circumstances and the backstory is slowly fleshed out throughout the running time of 55 minutes explaining their presence and their initial hostility. The play contains bursts of rawness and strong emotions as the pair dissect what went wrong in their relationship and with the deceased. But the play is unable to sustain the intrigue and emotional power and gradually becomes rambling toward the latter half when most of the mystery has been revealed. Also, the one or two attempts at humour seem incompatible with the tone of the rest of the play especially given their sporadic use. Robin Morrissey and Kieran Knowles playing the men are as immersed in their parts as the script allows but they are limited by the characterisation of constant anger, bitterness and resentment. The lack of hope of a resolution also makes it hard to empathise.
The second play Lacuna by Matthew Bulgo is set in the near future when Kate has just woken up from a long sleep or stasis and is being interviewed by a doctor, David. Similar to the first play, the information is slowly sketched out through their weekly sessions as Kate begins to remember the events before her sleep as dreams. This play tries harder to analyse the concept of grief and the process of grieving and it outlines some of the essence. Played by Joanne Ferguson, Kate’s description of her dreams is too idealistic and blissful which although fitting with the purpose of the treatment, seems to contradict her supposed mental suffering. The process of healing and realisation of the truth towards the end also seems abrupt. Alastair Kirton playing David is given the unchallenging role of looking impassive and inscrutable yet offering verbal reassurance and he does it perfectly. There is however a beautifully written passage, brilliantly performed by Ferguson towards the end collating all the fragmented memory of a loved one before her sleep. It is a shame that it does not quite fit in with the rest of the play.
There are some good ideas and writing within these two, slightly uneven plays. There is definitely potential here and the subject matter is certainly worth more exploration.