Theatre review: Leviathan
Òran Mór, Sherman Cymru and Traverse Theatre's co-production presents a less-than-happy valley
This, the first co-production between Òran Mór, Sherman Cymru and Traverse Theatre, is a study of how the umbilical cord can strangle when it is not severed. Three generations of women from a working class Welsh family sit out on a sunny day in a backyard, with two – grandmother and granddaughter – bickering, cackling and exchanging increasingly shrill recriminations. The third, however, is silent. Karen (Claire Cage) is near catatonic – her stream-of-consciousness inner monologue is only voiced between scenes.
Mavis (Siw Hughes) is Karen's blowsy mother, whose idea of dealing with her daughter's condition is to leave her alone in a shabby old armchair. She is an alcoholic, prone to tirades and grand pronouncements on that which does not concern her. Meanwhile Hannah (Gwawr Loader) the teen granddaughter is pregnant, stroppy and assured of her family's many failings: 'We're certified Valley filth', she cries.
Secrets have a habit of seeping through the brickwork, and Matthew Trevannion's dizzying dialogue is well-handled, if unremarkable, touched with occasional lyricism. Loader's performance is most engaging, but the problem is that when the emotional punches do arrive, it is hard to invest in them, as the story is as well-worn as Karen's grimy peach chair, and the characters unsympathetic.
Dark humour should have many shades of nuance, but there is black and blue here and little else. A lack of tenderness and the often detached nature of Leviathan's script means a tendency towards overwhelming bleakness, but there are a few nice touches to be unearthed, nonetheless, and a great cast who make the most of Trevannion's solid script.