Split between the top deck of the Number 11 bus and the front room of a regular terrace house, Rachel De-lahay’s Circles comes to the Tricycle after a well-received run at the Birmingham Rep Theatre. Tightly coiled into 70 minutes and two interlocking narratives, it is a fierce shot in the arm that reminds us just how easily people get sucked into cycles of violence and how incredibly difficult it can be to break out of them.
Until recently, the number 11 bus service in Birmingham was the longest in Europe and to do a full circuit at just under two and a half hours was considered a rite of passage. 15 year old Demi uses it as an escape from the drudgery of her home life but a meeting with equally teenaged Malachi – his cocky swagger barely hiding his true marshmallow self – offers something different from the same routine. But for all the sweet romance that seems to build up as a connection of sorts is formed between the pair, is it all as innocuous as it seems?
Meanwhile a bruised and battered Angela returns to her mother’s home as her own relationship takes another dip but it soon becomes evident that it isn’t the first time nor has this particular apple fallen far from the tree. And so De-lahay explores the vicious spirals that trap people into the most destructive behaviour and the hopelessness that accompanies it. Tessa Walker’s production is sleek and sharp, Bob Bailey’s design enabling the necessary quick changes, and it is a brutally effective piece of theatre.