I took a short trip to Bath with my dad and my brother yesterday to see a new theatre production about a seemingly in control young woman with an uncomfortable and unconfronted past.
Darlings tells the story of main protagonist Eve (Katie Anderson) and her casual relationship with boyfriend and “new addiction”, Gabe (Toby Robertshaw). A semi-drunken chat after a night out begins to reveal – through delicate puppetry and reverberating soundbites – a lot of previously uncovered history. All this intrigues Gabe at first, but brings out Eve’s defensive side and sets them up for an unavoidable yet necessary revelation.
It’s not too surprising seeing as their relationship is largely undefined, but both Eve and Gabe hide an awful lot from each other, which can’t be healthy. Especially Eve, who often disappears off into her own head, as she recalls recurring unpleasant memories from childhood which have both stunted her emotional growth and her relationship with her father.
With a three-day run at the Mission Theatre as part of Bath Fringe Festival, Darlings is the latest stage production from writer/director Eleanor Hope-Jones, also founder of Palomar Theatre. The Bristol-based theatre company is relatively new, having started in the summer of 2017, and consists of a group of University of West England (UWE) graduates whose mission is to “bring subconscious motivations behind behaviour to the forefront of the stage” through the exploration of human behaviour “as a spectrum” instead of a “binary understanding of good [or] bad.”
Led by Anderson, along with Robertshaw and Annie Philbin (the flirty waitress), the cast are a bunch of very open, casual and cool customers. Their performances were not short of drama, but certainly not overdramatic – the tight, well-balanced script didn’t allow for it.
Overall the story makes you think about the role your childhood plays in your development as an adult. Often we separate the two, but if we learned to embrace it, accept our parents faults and learn from it, perhaps we could be more honest with ourselves and hopefully live happier, more fulfilling lives.
Darlings is raw and reflective, funny in the right moments, and engaging from start to finish.
Palomar Theatre is currently crowdfunding with plans to bring Darlings to Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the deadline is tomorrow at 22:00, so donate what you can (and as quickly as you can!)
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