It’s the simplest of ideas. Snippets of conversations between a mother and daughter. The daily details, petty resentments and irritations laid bare – two people who love each other never quite being able to find a connection. But writer and director Selma Dimitrijevic layers this idea over and over; the women are played by men (Sean Campion as Mum and Scott Turnbull as Annie), A real mother and daughter sit at a table by the stage, being both watched and watching along with the audience, and the dialogue is almost naturalistic? These conversations may have happened, but maybe not quite in this order or all at once? It’s hard to describe.
It starts energetic, frenetic and pacey – Annie visits her Mum full of cheer and good will and their dance begins. As each scene unravels we watch Annie’s confidence waver, she begins to hesitate to tell her Mum something that might annoy or offend – she waits for the certain criticism. Scott Turnbull is brilliant as Annie – vulnerable, eager to please and trying hard to love his mother when she is being unlovable. The equally marvellous Campion gives Mum a heightened anxiety and lack of self-awareness that means we know she doesn’t realise how much her behaviour impacts on her daughter. This is her redemption – she’s so wrapped up in her own anxieties that other people’s feelings are hard to consider.
Dimitrijevic takes the audience on a journey of conversations remembered and imagined, where it is as much about what is left unsaid as the actual dialogue. Annie will never be quite good enough, never quite make the right decision for her mother. And then there is another twist, another conversation to be had. But it’s funny too! There were lots of laughs from the audience – a few gasps of recognition and even if it sounds confusing, it isn’t when it’s rolling out in front of you. It’s very human, very simple and very complicated.
Without too many spoilers (I may be too late), the play also looks at how a daughter-mother dynamic can steal the attention from a daughter-father relationship – it’s only towards the end of the play that there is space for Dad and Annie to take time together, and even then, it’s really about Mum.
Camden People’s Theatre is a delightful, friendly fringe theatre with a reputation for programming inventive and experimental new theatre – and Gods Fallen is a perfect match for the venue. Definitely worth the visit. Gods Fallen and All Safety Gone runs until 31st May before heading to Newcastle and Manchester.
Review by Roz Wyllie
@GreyscaleTC | #GodsAreFallen | greyscale.org.uk
Running Time: 55 minutes | Suitable for ages 14+
Directed by Selma Dimitrijevic
Assistant Director Maria Crocker
Designed by Oliver Townsend
Cast: Sean Campion, Scott Turnbul
Tue 12 May – Sun 31 May
Time: 7.30pm, performances Tuesday to Sunday
Ticket Information: £12 / 10