On the Permanence of Fugitive Colors – Theatre review

Garry Mannion (Steve) and Samantha Michelle (Rebecca).

Steve is an artist, Rebecca is a nurse. They meet and end up back at his messy studio having sex on the paint-splattered sofa. We first meet these characters post-coitus where as Rebecca dresses she cheerfully asks, “By the way, what’s your name?” Thus we begin writer Cyd Casados’ journey through the six months of their complicated relationship. Both love and crave sex and sexual encounters (sometimes to a fault) but neither wants a traditional relationship. As the plot unfolds, both struggle between fighting their growing emotions for each other and balancing their opinions on what the relationship is or should be.

Certainly the premise of this play is intriguing, if perhaps oft explored, and Casados’ writing has some wonderful moments. Most scenes in the character’s changing relationship are written with intelligence although there are also sections of dialogue that seem slightly forced and out of place. However, this could perhaps be a clash between a presentation that is fairly ‘cinematic’ in style and dialogue that is theatrical.

Note should also be made of some of the stylistic choices here. The lighting design was simple but effective, with nine bare light bulbs reacting to the action on stage – orgasmically flashing to Steve and Rebecca’s first sexual encounter and vacillating between dimmed and blazing as their relationship peaks and troughs. Director Davey Kelleher also makes an interesting decision in having the two actors change costume onstage between scenes. In one such moment, the two actors tenderly helped each other to dress. This was a gorgeous but seemingly throw-away moment, as most of the other costume changes seemed to be purely functional and wore thin by the close of the play. If properly choreographed, this device could have been used to further mirror Rebecca and Steve’s relationship, adding another physical layer to a dialogue-heavy production.

Garry Mannion tackles the affable and juvenile Steve with a delightful energy and the husky-toned Samantha Michelle makes some interesting choices with her complicated character Rebecca. At times Rebecca does seem to teeter dangerously on the edge of ultimate male fantasy - she might be termed a ‘Manic Pixie Dream Nympho' - but thankfully, this is avoided on the most part. Frustratingly, it seems as if the audience view Rebecca as if through Steve’s eyes, rather than really getting to explore her as a character. When compared to our experience of Steve this is disappointing. Michelle has undoubtedly put the background work in but perhaps the text does not allow for enough revelation here.

Considering Steve and Rebecca’s relationship begins with a series of highly-charged sexual encounters, there was a slight lack of erotic tension between Mannion and Michelle in the first half. However, as I saw the last performance of the run, I can only assume this was merely an unintentional by-product of the familiarity between the two actors. Towards the second half of the play both actors began to shine and really let us in to the complexities of their characters. Here the eroticism sizzles and the arguments burn. The final moments of the show are the most poignant, with Mannion and Michelle giving us beautiful, silent performances and leaving us to wonder how much effect our sexual partners have on our lives and whether we can ever truly white-wash an experience away.

© Carly Halse 2013
Reviewed on 10th August 2013.

On the Permanence of Fugitive Colors
Tristan Bates Theatre – as part of The Camden Fringe
5th – 10th August
Approx. 1 hour 20 mins


Samantha Michelle – Rebecca
Garry Mannion – Steve

Writer - Cyd Casados
Director - Davey Kelleher
Producer – Robert F Bradish


Supported by Player Playwrights

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