Chaser, Lion and Unicorn Theatre - Review

While Blink.Theatre has female directors overseeing the double bill playing at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre at the moment, the two plays couldn't be more different in tone from each other. Chaser, the first play (written by by Howard Thompson and directed by Sinead O'Callaghan) can be described as a cross between Frank Marcus' The Window and William Wharton's Birdy.

Featuring three very different characters, there's Sarah (Lowenna Melrose), her married friend Antonia (Laura Meaton), and their musician neighbour John (Richard Dawes). While Antonia's husband Sam is mentioned frequently, he never makes an actual appearance. Instead, Sarah and Antonia's friendship faces the spotlight – who are polar opposites in terms of temperament and circumstances. While Antonia's marriage is stagnant at best, Sarah openly (to Antonia at least) lives her life a an escort. As someone who likes sex but had her fill of relationship 'dramas', it's an ideal arrangement for her. And if some of these men are unhappily married, she rationalises it's not her fault. She only supplies sex, not love.

When he isn't actively talking to the audience, imparting his ruminating about life, John observes birds and more importantly for the purposes of this play, Sarah and Antonia... While it's obvious he is erudite, his demeaour sets him as a thing apart from others. All becomes obvious at the end what his connection is between each of the women, though in the interim it isn't always apparent.

The use of dancing at times is a nice touch – something unexpected and a non-verbal way to convey something that has no language. It's also a pleasant nod to Catherine O'Shea's Shards, which uses this motif more prominently.

John's isolation, the female relationships and the use of dance to punctuate the play are all interesting things in their own right. Unfortunately within the play it doesn't feel like they are a natural fit, separate things that don't belong together. Some tweaking of John's speech so that it is less oblique and more relevant to the revelations down the line would pay dividends.

© Michael Davis 2016

Chaser runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 14th May 2016.


Author's review: