Writer: Bea Roberts
Director: Deirdre Mullins and Nik Partridge
Reviewer: Karen Bussell
For a play without actors (and no spoken dialogue), there are plenty of characters to meet in 2015’s Theatre503 Playwriting prize winner Bea Roberts’ funny, quirky and innovative Infinity Pool: a modern retelling of Madame Bovary.
Peopled with myriad work colleagues, couch potato husband, gap year daughter, pioneering old git in a caravan, and belligerent mother, this is the story of calorie-counting, empty nester Emma’s one chance to escape her mundane little life and truly carp the dream.
Roberts races about a stage strewn with laptops, screens, props and the debris of a humdrum existence providing a mesmerising glimpse into Emma’s failing plumbers merchant’s admin post resplendent with nipple-flashing Liam, breaking for Spain Brian and patronising boss Claire whose lime-green comic sans corporate speak conjures vivid images of life beyond the clanging metal lift doors and row upon row of sanitary ware.
Projected high-end internet shopping sites contrast with the tedious imagery of the grey drive to the dropped ‘C’anal View trading estate workplace while TV’s glamorous New Yorkers’ cocktails are a welcome escape from Emma’s taciturn big blue type husband who lives it up with microwave fish pie and telly. A fall into Plymouth Sound pours cold water on dreams of Busby Berkeley-esque swims across the Atlantic while a foil survival blanket wraps up coveted haute couture. Even Emma’s fantasies of rampant sex with a sizzling pop star is trampled upon by that bloke off Coast.
And all the while there is the budding on-line romance with the seemingly lovely Kick whose present bedfellow has worms. Being whosoever she wants to be behind the keyboard and resonating with an internet dating population, cheeky pictures of stilettos and refurbed bathrooms, banter and bravery brings Emma the promise of at least the moon if not the stars.
Multimedia is exploited to its fullest potential here bringing a palpable intimacy to what could so easily feel contrived and cumbersome. Beautifully executed, Roberts’ piece is engaging and ground-breaking with the inventive use of the usurped Over Head Projector a particular joy capturing the ultimate binge-drinking party downfall with deliciously sharp observation.
A bittersweet tale packed into an hour with party blowers, nibbles and enough nods to Flaubert’s original to satisfy the zealots but no prior knowledge required to appreciate a delightfully unique experience.
Runs until 4 March 2017 | Image: Contributed