Theatre Review :: God’s Ear
November 23rd 2011
Death can be such a bitch! First, there’s the whole loss thing, then the coming-to-terms thing and then of course the funeral thing. What would happen if you just circumnavigated that process and designed your own unique coping mechanisms?
In God’s Ear, Mel and Ted, your average middle-class married couple from suburbia, have a dead son on their hands. Details of what happened to their son are scarce; we know he was in a coma, we know he had brain damage, but how he got there is never explained and is ultimately not important. What is important is the way Mr. and Mrs McNormal deal with their loss. Or, more powerfully, the way they don’t.
Normal interactions after their son’s death are replaced by a currency of phrases heavy with metaphor, cliché and lyrical soliloquies. Adding to the confusion is the deceptively emotionless characterisation. As the grieving couple, Natasha Beaumont and Julian Garner, initially interact like strangers; in fact, their whole first exchange is so dead pan it’s comical. The generic dialogue created only occasionally reflects real feeling, which perhaps is its design; it highlights what it intends to cover up, like a bikini tan line of emotions. There is some comic relief, in the form of a transvestite air hostess and G.I. Joe (Kieran Foster), a drunk hooker looking for pain in all the right places (Helen O’Leary) and a slightly off key tooth fairy (Gael Ballantyne).
This play could be really sad. It could be really sentimental. It could be God awful. But thankfully it’s God wonderful, largely due to some witty and existential exchanges crafted by playwright Jenny Schwartz and some snappy performances by the cast. Director Jonathon Wald avoids the temptation to make this work obvious and instead deviates away from the moral compass of judgment (these characters are flawed –but hey aren’t we all?) and instead shapes a visceral reflection of our own inadequacies in dealing with death and being human.
Where: Seymour Centre, Cleveland St
When: Until 2 December