When new writing theatre company DryWrite commissioned Jack Thorne to create a new play, they gave him the challenge of setting it solely in a bathroom. The result is Mydidae, newly opened in the heated closeness of the Soho Theatre Upstairs, and far from festive fare as over the course of a single day, a couple’s interactions in this fully-plumbed (in Amy Jane Cook’s design) bathroom redefine themselves and their reactions in the face of the anniversary of a terrible event.
The setting of the bathroom emerges as an inspired choice, allowing Thorne to explore a more intimate yet mundane side of relationships in an environment where perhaps we let our guard down the most with those with whom we live. The sharing of space with someone whilst going through daily ablutions speaks of a different kind of closeness, a more intense connection and so it transpires with Marian and David. They’re both still reeling from a shared tragedy event: her pain seemingly internalised and leaving her isolated, his deferred by a greater pragmatism and an important pitch at work, but it is in the moments around and then in the freestanding bath-tub that see a searing honesty come pouring forth.
But even before we reach the moments of high drama and revelatory assertions, director Vicky Jones creates an utterly (in)credible naturalism which makes this a stunningly convincing account of the realities of co-habiting. Thorne’s dialogue captures so much of the easy back and forth of a couple’s banter, the private jokes and rituals, the honesty and emotion shared whether in supporting, seducing or searching the other for a deeper truth. And the performers strip themselves down to an emotional, as well as physical, nakedness that becomes deeply affecting.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge doesn’t so much act Marianne as simply breathe her, quick-wittedly quirky yet heart-rendingly fragile as she picks at her emotional scars. And Keir Charles’ David is astonishingly frank yet highly affecting in suggesting some of the insecurities of a modern man as he lays everything bare, fluffing his bits in candlelit anticipation and not quite unable to hide his emotional anxiety either. Together they form a relationship of devastatingly precise believability and piercing intimacy that is breath-taking as previously hidden complexities and ambiguities reveal themselves.
Not quite everything is as pitch-perfect though: placing the final scene in the bathroom stretches the concept a little thinly and Isobel Waller-Bridge’s soundscape occasionally threatens to overwhelm matters when it would be better understating them. But ultimately these are minor quibbles in an evening of uncompromising candour and quality.