White Bear Theatre
Reviewed – 30th August 2018
“There are certainly moments that have potential, where the dramatic tension begins to draw you in, but unfortunately, these are few”
Click. Flash. Boom. A picture is worth a thousand words. As the saying goes. With a press of a button, a moment can be encapsulated forever – a piece of reality on film. But what happens when reality has been manipulated to supply a fantasy? What happens when the fantasy wants to take over? Eros makes a good attempt at dealing with the notion of consent within the art world, but fails to delve as far as it could have gone.
Ross was once a well-known photographer, capturing stunning women. He says he took photos to depict the art of beauty. Kate, a previous model and love affair of Ross remembers things differently, in front of the lens. Kate makes a surprise visit to Ross’ studio, after twenty years apart, and now she is looking for answers and justice for what he did. Terri, a young runaway who has recently been living in the studio in exchange for doing odd jobs, finds it hard to believe the past of a man she has come to know as only showing her pure kindness.
Living in an era where historical sexual assault or ‘sexploitation’ cases have risen to the surface, Eros seems, on paper, to be a highly relevant piece of theatre. Playwright Kevin Mandry makes a thought-provoking decision of setting the play in the nineties, a good twenty years before the recent eruption of people bravely stepping forward, illustrating our change in attitude to dealing with such matters of physical or mental abuse. Back then, only small steps were being made. If the play was set in present day, I’m sure the character Kate would go to the police.
What comes across as odd within the play is the dynamic between Kate and Ross. One minute Kate is filled with hatred towards Ross for his past behaviour, the next, she is reminiscing the old times, drinking, dancing, laughing. It would be understandable if this was a tactic Kate uses to push Ross into a false sense of security. If this was Mandry’s intention, it certainly does not come across this way. Instead, the character arc just seems confused with Kate’s motives not ever being clear.
Felicity Jolly as Terri offers the most genuine performance, giving a believable turn as a naïve, confused, young woman, seeing only the best in people. Stephen Riddle and Anna Tymoshenko as Ross and Kate have moments of true connection, which you can’t take your eyes off of, however, most of the time, dialogue feels forced, as they stiffly move about the stage as placed by the director (Stephen Bailey).
As previously mentioned, Eros seems to tick the right boxes on paper, yet fails to deliver the goods in its execution. What could have been a tense, high-stakes psychological drama, set in the claustrophobic studio, ends up being rather lack-lustre. There are certainly moments that have potential, where the dramatic tension begins to draw you in, but unfortunately, these are few. A provocative idea that misses the mark.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Stephanie Claire Photography
White Bear Theatre until 15th September