Meet me at Dawn
Reviewed – 16th October 2019
“the writing itself is strong, as are the performances, but it just misses the mark in its conclusion”
Having been met with great acclaim in the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival, Meet Me At Dawn, as directed by Murat Daltaban, comes to the Arcola for its London premiere.
Helen (Jessica Hardwick) and Robyn (Marianne Oldham) find themselves washed up on shore after their boat capsizes. They’re struggling to locate themselves, working out how to get help, how to go home. But as the adrenaline from their accident starts to wear off, they realise that their surroundings are a little off; that all is not as it seems or as it should be.
Attempting to tackle the inescapable trauma of grief, writer Zinnie Harris takes her inspiration from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It doesn’t quite come together in the same way, but you can see how her efforts have led to her writing Meet Me At Dawn.
Hardwick and Oldham seem to have a genuine affection for one another; there’s a sense of years of intimacy in their performances. The dialogue is quippy and honest, combining practical, familiar chat with surreal memories and poetic contemplation.
A shining black floor and background of changing block colours (designed by director Murat Daltaban, and Cen Yilmazer) add to the sense of unrealness. Abstract piano music and an echo on the dialogue (Oğuz Kaplangi) slip in and out of use, presumably to pinpoint certain poignant moments, but it’s a little random. It’s not that their use is inappropriate to the atmosphere, but rather they don’t appear to mark anything in particular, as the dialogue itself muddles abstraction with pragmatism throughout.
In her programme note, Harris talks about the idea of someone grief-stricken wishing for just a moment longer, and the application of that being a nightmare in reality. But she seems unable to resist a little over-sentimentality in her dealing with this idea. It’s a shame because the writing itself is strong, as are the performances, but it just misses the mark in its conclusion. Meet Me At Dawn poses some interesting questions, but its answers don’t quite satisfy.
Reviewed by Miriam Sallon
Photography by Lidia Crisafulli
Meet me at Dawn
Arcola Theatre until 9th November
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: