Theatre

The Six-Days World @ Finborough Theatre, London



cast list
William Whymper
Katharine Barker
Chris Moran
Tracey Kearney
Rosalind Porter
Robert Emms

directed by
Jamie Harper
Eddie is going home for Christmas. He hasnt been back in years and has been living in Ireland with his girlfriend, attempting to make a go of it as a musician as far away from his parents as he could get. But hes in his thirties now, his girlfriend is talking about having children of their own, and Eddie finds he cant stay away from his parents, and from his past, any longer.

Elizabeth Kutis play is a curious thing, stuffed with the familiar familial bickering that Christmas tends to bring. But even as Eddies parents clash over stains on the carpet and what decorations to put on the Christmas cake, it is abundantly clear that there is something else going on here, some past tragedy that sill casts a shadow over their lives.

Eddie, it turns out, had an older brother, Richard. He had a bright future ahead of him, a place to study architecture at university, but he got hit by a train on a dark night and now Richard remains forever eighteen, a smiling face in photographs, frozen in time. Kuti is adept at writing about the circles that grief can drive one in, the endless questioning, the inability to move on. But this is not simply a story of a family pulled apart through loss; Eddies homecoming triggers revelations that will change the lives of all involved.

Jamie Harpers production contains much that is moving but it is an oddly paced affair, dragging the audience in and then abruptly pushing them back. William Whymper and Katharine Barker have a nice rapport as Eddies aging parents, Ralph and Angela. You can sense the weight of shared years between them as they each still struggle to deal with the pain and guilt caused by Richards death. But it is Tracy Kearneys performance that really stands out. She is superb as Eddies patient girlfriend Kat; thrust into this impossibly messy situation, she handles each new development with calm and compassion.

The play contains some striking and emotive scenes, but the writing too often gets caught up in the needs of the narrative, and it can feel rather bitty as a result. The production is crying out to be made tighter; as it is, a lot of the potential emotional impact is diluted. However its to its credit, that it steps away from the overtly sentimental, and instead feeds the audience a series of memorable episodes, such as the moment where Tom, the much younger brother of one of Eddies school friends sits seemingly hypnotised by the light of the slide projector from which images of Richard are being projected, or when Ralph confesses to Kat his need for penance for failing to prevent Richards death.

The Six-Days World is not a perfect play, indeed is a frustrating one in many ways, but it succeeds in capturing something of the vast unfathomable pain that comes with losing a child, as well as the different but still acute ache that comes from being the son left living.



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