Mycorrhiza – The Space – Review by Eamon Somers
May 14th – 18th
See the Foreword Festival Kickstarter page here.
Mycorrhiza (pronounced mike-oh-rize-a) is the name given to the symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant, mutual help etc. Alicia (Corrina Buchan) says she and Dean (Scott Afton) have a mycorrhiza type relationship, although Dean is not that happy to be the fungus.
Split between two periods in their lives: a day mitching from school and some years later when Alicia is in college and Dean is working. The setting is the same, a tidal island where they can be alone together and try to share the pressing secrets controlling their lives. What happens on the island, stays on the island!
Their stories emerge in short intense scenes with the pair of them misunderstanding each other, being prickly, and Dean displaying expert stuttering tongue-tiedness. Young Alicia needs to be strong for her widowed mother and her reckless sister, older Alicia is estranged from them. Dean is keen to declare himself a man, notwithstanding his slim (not skinny) frame. Physically not as strong as Alicia we never feel she is in any danger, even when he tricks her into a reunion on the island by pretending to be someone else, and where (cut off by the tide) they stay the night and resolve their future friendship, if not their own inner conflicts.
The reasons Dean tricks Alicia into going to the island are not entirely clear although perhaps (unconsciously) he was anticipating that he would find it easier to open up in that location; tricking himself as it were. But it did make him look a bit creepy.
If you go to see Mycorrhiza look out for the deft way Scott Afton folds the pop-up tent – in the dark – during the changes of scene. Dazzling!
Thankfully, there was no neat cosy ending to this story of sexual abuse; the subject was confronted and recovery will take time. The only tearjerker was the singing of the delightful Dido lyrics: “I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life.”
Mycorrhiza by Luke Stapleton runs till 18th May at the Space Theatre, Isle of Dogs, London.
Two further plays will complete the Space Theatre’s Forward Festival of new writing: Sink 21st – 25th May, and Four O’Clock Flowers 25th May – 1st June.