Writer: Eamonn Dolan
Director: Phoebe White
When successful artist Mia arrives home to her studio, she finds her poet boyfriend Finn standing on the table, a noose around his neck, ready to end it all. She is content to goad him into continuing, seemingly because she’s never known him to finish anything, let alone his own life.
There is an awful lot of spite and resentment in Eammon Dolan’s dark comedy. Beatrice Cavicchioni’s Mia is dismissive of Finn (Alec Taylor) partly because of his lack of talent, but also because of his affair with Emily Rennie’s Tilly. In return, Finn resents his girlfriend’s success, while Tilly and Mia are at loggerheads over their shared man.
While Dolan’s scenario relies on many clichés, the tortured artist and the love triangle among them, there is scope for subversion of expectation to elevate the story. Unfortunately, such opportunities are rarely taken.
Taylor is given the best material to work with, and runs with it, producing some genuinely funny moments through his portrayal. Both Rennie and Civicchioni’s characters are much more one-note, giving the actors little to work with. Rennie does, commendably, attempt to raise Tilly beyond the manipulative femme fatale-style caricature that the play would have us believe her to be.
It doesn’t help that Dolan’s script never feels authentic, with word choices and sentence structures that feel like they may work better on the page than on the stage. It is noticeable that a segment in which Taylor and Cavicchioni portray an attempted reconciliation between Finn and Mia works all the better because it is largely dialogue-free.
Lawrence Harp’s sound designs do a lot to lift the production. From the opening soundscape as Finn considers suicide (and the comedy inherent in being unable to perform the act to the accompaniment of a persistent ice cream van’s jingle) there is a strong sense of auditory embellishment that gives a much-needed fillip to proceedings.
Ultimately, though, Siren Song cannot escape the biggest pitfall of satirising artists’ lack of self-awareness of their own deficiencies. To do so effectively, it needs to itself be stronger than the characters it is mocking.
Continues until 26 August 2023
Camden Fringe runs until 27 August 2023