‘Mydidae’, according to Wikipedia, are a group of large flies with a short lifespan and a large sting. Having taken the trouble to look it up, I then spent much of the 75 minutes of this two-hander subconsciously trying to ferret out the significance. At the end I was none the wiser.

This is only the first riddle in this intense, intimate play, set in a fully-functioning bathroom in which a long-established heterosexual couple (Marian and David) play, love, quarrel, and gradually, indirectly reveal both what unites them and divides them. Though the play is without interval, it still divides naturally into two halves, first crescendo, second diminuendo; diving them, an act of horrifying yet hypnotic violence.

Difficult to say too much without giving the game away. Essentially the play works through the contrast between the ultra-realistic set, complete with running water, naked soapy bodies, peeing in the loo, and myriad bathroom props, and characters which push from sparse, naturalistic dialogue towards something more universal and ambiguous. How can two people who love each other deal with the great hurts and wrongs which each feels the partner has done to them? Dialogue is very much in Harold Pinter territory, although after the catastrophe we move more towards Samuel Beckett, as the games get more enigmatic and darker.

One of the problems with writing in Pinter mode, all surface banalities and complex subtext, is that the dialogue can become merely banal, and in the first part it can’t be said that every line earns its keep. Towards the end the emotional temperature rises, the pain becomes more manifest, the acting more intense and the whole experience tauter.

The text is well served by the intimate and nuanced performances of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Marian) and Keir Charles (David). We believe utterly in their comfortable familiarity and their slightly worn love. It is the strong conviction of these established at the start which makes the cracks that appear so shocking. There is also the fun of recognising the way people behave in bathrooms – the faces they pull, the parts they wobble. We want to love these characters, and the fact that by the end we cannot is deeply disturbing.

This is a play that you’ll be chewing over in the pub long after the performance, and the resonance of the images will linger too. But I still can’t see these characters as overgrown stinging flies.

Reviews by Peter Scott-Presland

Charing Cross Theatre

Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris

★★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

Return of the Soldier

★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Eye of a Needle

★★★★
Rosemary Branch Theatre

The Trial of the Jew Shylock

★★★
Southwark Playhouse

In The Heights

★★★★

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The Blurb

A bathroom is a place of exposure, privacy, cleansing and personal rituals. Somewhere that only those who are especially close would spend time together. Marian and David are seemingly close; they complete their domestic roles and move easily around one another. However, as they become overexposed and layers are peeled back, it becomes more obvious that there is in fact a great distance between them.

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