River in the Sky
Lion and Unicorn Theatre
Reviewed – 29th May 2019
“The play’s premise is a ripe and interesting one and a promising structure for a fringe piece”
Grief, love and storytelling: some of life’s pressure points. Peter Taylor’s play oscillated between all of these, glancing upon moments of sincerity and tenderness. But no one emotion or experience was sustained, leaving me sometimes engaged, but ultimately unresolved.
Lindsey Cross and Howard Horner performed with commitment and passion. Their personal portrayals of parallel experiences of the grief of the loss of a child were heartfelt and genuine. Letting my eyes wander around the Lion and Unicorn’s in-the-round black box, I saw some moved and connected audience members. What the play lacks in clarity and depth, the actors try and make up for with presentness in the space and trust in one another.
The characters’ monologues contain vast emotional journeys and, at points, I found the direction excessive. Having each emotion and thought played by a recreative action was often distracting, especially because the play seemed to be reaching towards both characters achieving a sense of consolidation with their grief. River in the Sky worked well in the round: the privacy of the couple’s situation being viewed from all vantage points, as they struggled to communicate. But their time together in dialogue lacked the physical or emotional knowledge or understanding between two people who are or who have ever been partners, despite the individual actors inhabiting their roles. This was down to a somewhat disparate script; and scenes which built and fell from climax to catharsis rather at random.
The play’s premise is a ripe and interesting one and a promising structure for a fringe piece. The technical elements served the play in its current form and made it cohesive. But each character needed more layers in order for the play to do justice to its vital themes.
Reviewed by Eloïse Poulton
River in the Sky
Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 1st June
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: