“You’re not to blame, but that doesn’t mean someone else is”
From an original concept by Matthew Wilkinson and Bob Goody, Wilkinson’s self-directed My Eyes Went Dark is an admirably ambitious and complex study of revenge and redemption and the true cost of forgiveness, playing at the redoubtable Finborough Theatre. Based on a true story, architect Nikolai Koslov’s world is shattered when an air disaster robs him of his wife and two children and the pursuit for his version of justice leads him to perilously close to the world of terrible vengeance.
Matching Nikolai’s psyche, the play’s narrative is equally fragmented with scenes scattered over three countries and at least five years and Wilkinson makes us work hard for it with a stark and spare staging from Bethany Wells and little in the way of visual cues. But it is extraordinarily effective, especially with the powerful end-on lighting design from Elliot Griggs. Exposed as it is by the traverse stage, to watch how it illuminates the space without as much as the space within is most illustrative.
Cal MacAninch’s Nikolai is a constant presence, a throbbing brooding mystery as the jagged splinters of his anguished primal scream emerging unexpectedly, the driving force of his rage pushing him to ever more extreme action. And Thusitha Jayasundera is truly exceptional as all of the other characters of the story, corporate apologist to distraught relative to blameless young girl in the blink blink blink of an eye and utterly true to the emotion of each, the storytelling thread as such lies in her hand.
It could be easy to get somewhat disorientated in My Eyes Went Dark, one has to work a little to keep a hold of that thread but it is well worth the effort in the richness of the world that it evokes and the intelligence of its writing. The hints of Nikolai’s native Northern Ossetia, the frankness of a justice system in thrall to corporate interests, the utter corrosiveness of revenge and how it too easily becomes cyclical, this is a superbly constructed, and acted, play.