AUDIENCES at Strode Theatre in Street are accustomed to pantomimes, musicals, comedies and classic dramas, but Mayfly, on stage until Saturday 9th November, is something entirely new.
Director Neil Howiantz discovered Joe White’s play, produced only once before in London, and arranged to meet the playwright. A long chat resulted in the Somerset company getting an exclusive licence to produce this tense family drama, and it’s very much a play of the 21st century.
Two stalwarts of Street Theatre, Paul Townsend and Karen Trevis, are joined by the impressive newcomers Locryn Gadd and Francesca Fallows.
The play is told in short scenes as the back story is gradually revealed. It was distracting that the audience felt compelled to applaud after every scene, rather breaking both the flow and the tension, but it didn’t put the actors off.
Set at the riverbank, a cottage and a failing pub in a rural village, on one Sunday, Ben (Paul Townsend) and Cat (Karen Trevis) are the parents of Loops (Francesca Fallows).
Harry, a young man from the village, manages to stumble into all their lives on the fateful day.
The clues are all there in the sparse dialogue, generously peppered as it is with casual and everyday profanities that might have shocked the usual audience. But I suspect the detail of the ending will still surprise.
Mayfly could not be performed without exceptional acting, and the director found four performers ready to subsume themselves into these tortured characters so that they were totally convincing and their anguish was palpable.
Special praise for Strode College student Locryn, whose natural delivery made this strange newcomer stand out in all his hesitant – and sometimes funny – interactions. It was an amazingly assured and insightful performance.
Mayfly is hard, human drama, and it is difficult to imagine its being better performed or directed than at Street.