Review: Regolith, Finborough Theatre

“This we have craved. This is our nightmare. This is tomorrow.”

Running in repertoire for just six performances, Regolith is a chance to catch a world premiere of a play by the Irish Chris Lee, a former Playwright-in-Residence at the Finborough.

There’s just the two characters, Sharp and Bitter, dressed the same, and they play out a twisting and turning mother-daughter relationship over the space of an hour in a number of short scenes. The play is set in some unspecified dystopian future, “the wrecked ruined rubble of the world” as described in the programme (which is also the meaning of Regolith: rubble), and the closest point of reference it called for me was the film Children of Men.

Harriet Ryder as Sharp is marvellously assured in just her second professional production, possessed of a great stillness which really captured the attention, especially in the quieter scenes: her description of the different types of intensive care was just heartbreaking. Janine Wood as Bitter was also good, with the slightly harder job of a much more abrasive, abusive character with perhaps a shade too much ‘bitterness’ given to her by the writing. They have great chemistry together though, and the opening scene of mother/daughter rituals is beautifully and nicely echoed in the final scenes with an unexpected twist.

Performed as it is on the set of Generous, the staging is minimal, just a swathe of black curtain and 3 chairs and the occasional prop. This really serves to focus on the language being spoken, which at times is darkly poetical and beautiful and highly revealing of the power that words can have over those we love and the way in which they can be used to manipulate people.

Enhanced by a subtle musical score and directed with a light touch by Ken McClymont, Regolith is an intriguing piece of work. I cannot honestly say that I understood it all, there are times when the attention wavered slightly, but it does not outstay its welcome and is very well acted.

Running time: 60 minutes with no interval
Programme cost: 50p

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