Writer: Shane Mac an Bhaird
Director: Lynne Parker
Reviewer: Sarah Hoover
Rough Magic’s latest production, Melt, twists and turns in a two-and-a-half hour journey that feels like 30 minutes. The tension never lets up and the strangeness just increases as Shane Mac an Bhaird’s “sophisticated fairytale” uncoils. With Owen Roe heading up the cast, the close-quarterted space of Smock Alley (and the detailed platform set of Sarah Bacon) gives the audience front-row seats to the fantastical results of anthropogenic climate change. The Chekhov’s gun of a hole in the centre begins the show on an ominous note that underpins the action all the way through.
Without giving away the complicated surprises in the plot, the fantastical realism of the plot is impeccably presented by the cast despite some characters’ innate unreality. The emotional layers that build thoroughout are honest and everyday and their reactions to the pressure of Antarctic intimacy are as normal as we might expect. Though they start slowly, Roe and scene partner Charlie Maher quickly develop the boundaries of their relationship, and just as quickly break them as they discover uncomfortable shared interests and utterly strange goings-on underneath their Antarctic shack. The delightful humor of discovery brings the whole play together in unexpected and sometimes shocking ways.
Though there were a few technical issues (the shuffle of exiting cast members can disrupt important lines), the pleasure of seeing such a strong Rough Magic production in such detail far outweighs them. Likewise, though not all of the production’s many themes are resolved, the skill shown by Mac an Bhaird’s script in weaving the mundane and the strange and the tragic and the comic is entirely worth watching. The fragility of each character, their future, and the future of the human race is brought gently to light and it is both lovely and dangerous to watch.
Runs until 8 October 2017 | Image: Contributed