The individual threads of Cleansed are what give it coherence
Siofra Dromgoole plays Grace with thoughtfulness and variation, as the character searches for the love of her dead brother, Graham. Her vocal performance in particular is varied and measured, helping us grasp Grace’s representation of love perhaps the best - the love of familiarity and comfort.
As Grace’s incestous relationship with Graham plays out on stage, it is the playfulness, contentedness and desperation with which Dromgoole delivers the lines that help us to see past revulsion and into what the relationship represents. Grief, loss and a desire to retain the memory of someone are all involved here. Another strong performance comes from Raymond Wilson, playing the young Robin. His unrequited, eager-to-please portrayal accurately captures the love of a boy, and he brings energy to a production that has a habit of dragging slightly.
Fear No Colours deserve a lot of credit for their efforts on this production - syringes of blood sprayed onto areas are cleverly used to represent amputation and injury, as the script calls for tongues, hands and feet to be removed. Their decision not to have clear scene changes though is less successful. While the rapid succession of scenes in the script challenges the possibility of conventional set changes, this production often simply leaves actors lying on the stage until their next section.
Their groaning and shifting, while admirable in its dedication to characters, is a distraction from what is supposed to be the central action on stage. The lack of clear sections make the play hard to follow. A decision to include, during a blackout, a quote from Kane about how the violence in her plays is just “the newspapers with all the boring bits cut out” serves only to draw attention to the fact that the production fails to connect the violence on stage with the real world. Some of the right ingredients are here for a truly impressive production of Cleansed.
Ultimately though, a production like this has to make some sort of sense - have something that an audience can cling onto. The individual threads of Cleansed are what give it some coherence, and in this production they seem to mix and mingle too readily. Sometimes they come together too quickly, giving us no time to absorb what’s happening. At other times, fumbling in the dark seems to last too long. The overall effect is to produce the feeling Kane often produces: confusion. There is some power here, and some poignancy, but it needs a little more clarity.