Darlings – Palomar Theatre at The Mission Theatre, Tues 5th June 20.00
Darlings presents themes of vulnerability and childhood trauma, entwined with alcohol abuse and casual sex. Darlings is an excellent exploration of physical theatre and puppetry, although it lacks an engaging plot.
Darlings is the story of Eve, who escapes her mind with work, drink, and sex. No one sees past her carefully curated image of a woman in control. Gabe is her new addiction. After another night of watching him flirt, this time with their waitress, Eve confronts the darkness in him. Memories of a childhood long ignored resurface when she realises that his pain lives in her too.
Eleanor Hope-Jones with the assistance of Casey Lloyd has brought the story to life with excellent direction and use of space. Their collaboration with Emmaline Clarke who created a flawless lighting design was successful. The use of puppetry to explore Eve and Gabe’s childhood experiences worked well and the use of feet for the puppeteer was a simple but effective solution for a lone puppeteer. The only issue was the inconsistency in puppet design, as this became a distraction. I was instantly intrigued by the striking and colourful image of a woman in a bathtub, which Palomar Theatre used for promotion for their show, yet the use of a bathtub as a prop was confusing and irrelevant especially when used at a scene based in a pub.
The actors: Katie Anderson, Annie Philbin and Toby Robertshaw each gave an equally excellent and empathetic performance. A standout moment for me was the use of a table to represent the elevator Eve was travelling in. Although extremely simple it worked successfully and added a different use of levels to the performance. My only criticism would be the male voiceover for the father’s character, the modified recording wasn’t convincing, and it cheapened the scene.
Having said that, Darlings shows great potential with a talented cast and crew, intelligent direction, and superb execution.
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Palomar Theatre was founded in the summer of 2017 by graduates of the University of the West of England as a means of staging the subconscious and exploring vulnerability and shame.
Darlings have now completed a successful three-night run at Bath Fringe Festival and will go on to run at the Edinburgh Fringe on 2nd – 27th August at C Aquila at 13.20.
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