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Review: AIRLOCK presents ERIS at The Bunker Theatre

ERIS: Photography credit: Connor Harris
ERIS: Photography credit: Connor Harris

Since AIRLOCK launched in 2016, the theatre company has developed a trademark style. When you watch a play directed by Robbie Taylor Hunt, expect a full-bodied experience – acting, lighting, sound, movement work in harmony to breathe attitude into the script.

ERIS follows the rebellion of femme and fabulous protagonist Seán. Played by Cormac Elliot, Seán embodies the Greek goddess of strife and discord, Eris, as his sexuality causes contention.

Seán is gay and Irish. An unsettling fact for his family, he is excluded from his sister’s wedding. Driven by righteous anger he is determined to do something about it and launches into a hunt for the most disruptive plus-one to the big day. We join Seán as he embarks on Tinder hook-ups and dodgy dates to find the most inappropriate and outrageous man.

While Seán’s family are caricatures, Elliot delivers a paired back and understated performance. He tempers his fellow actors’ overplayed character’s to create a sincere, endearing and intimate feeling in the room.

At times it felt like the audience were intentionally made to feel awkward and uncomfortable as if to more closely align them with the emotions of their protagonist.

During one scene, Tinder is taken off the screen and onto the stage. Standing in a circle around Elliot, the rest of the cast impersonate the people on the other end of the app. “Top or bottom”, “I’m usually little spoon”, “Did I tell you about my wife?”; relentlessly they call out into mics as Elliot, bewildered, stands in the middle. The scene breaks and the audience and Elliot feel an affinity – the change in tempo allows both relief from the rest of the play’s characters.

Katherine Laheen, who plays Seán’s mam, is one of King’s better-developed characters and credit to Taylor Hunt for her casting. Her well-timed turns of phrase, squinting eyes and awkward displays of affection towards her son make Laheen a frustratingly patronising and yet very sweet motherly figure.

John King’s first play is poignant, current and witty. Watch out for the plot twist in the final scene.

4 stars

Review by Alice Durrans

You know what would really fuck them off? If you went out there and found the least suitable, most inappropriate, most outrageous hunk of a man that this fine city has to offer, and the pair of you rock up to that church service in May, arm in arm.

Seán is feeling wronged because his boyfriend Tim has been excluded from a family wedding back home in Ireland. What does it matter that they’ve just broken up? The problem for his family is that Tim is femme, fabulous and worst of all, English. Spurred on by righteous anger, Seán is determined to do something about it.

As Greek myths, hook-up apps, and the musical stylings of Sinéad O’Connor collide, Seán launches into his hunt for the most disruptive plus-one possible.

Cast:
Seán – Cormac Elliott
Sinéad – Clare McGrath
Callista – Ashling O’Shea
Mam – Katherine Laheen
Steve – Charlie Ferguson

Creatives:
Writer: John King
Director: Robbie Taylor Hunt
Producer: Emma Daisy Groome
Designer: Natalie Johnson
Sound Designer: Julian Starr
Lighting Designer: Catja Hamilton
Production Stage Manager: Saskia Baylis
PR Manager: Lauren Gauge PR

Listing Information
ERIS by John King
The Bunker Theatre, 53a Southwark Street, London, SE1 1RU
11/09/2018 – 28/09/2018
Running time: 70 minutes
https://www.bunkertheatre.com/

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