On The Permanence Of Fugitive Colours tells the story of highly-sexed Rebecca, a nurse in her 20s, and Steve, a 38yr old artist who, despite their abandon for monogamy and commitment to relationships, engage in a tempestuous affair that threatens to bring them together.
With some revision of choices, regarding pace and giving us more of an emotional journey through different levels and gears, this new writing from Cyd Casados could be a fantastic piece of theatre.
The set is a well designed use of the Tristan Bates space, showing a small artist’s combined studio and living room in a typical state of an organised mess, its confinement shown by the tight area it occupies within the stage. Three rows of three bare light bulbs hanging above, often pulsating, give a warehouse feel. The couple begin in a pre-set, lounged on a sofa with piano chords chiming over them. The lights dim and we hear the couple have a brief sexual moment, thus opening the show.
We are introduced to Rebecca and Steve in the very well written opening scenes that strike the right balance of their lustful desires and building intrigue in their story. The play never dips into gratuitousness where it could so easily do, keeping us concentrated on them being who they are and the mystery of their intentions.
It emerges that neither Rebecca nor Steve are loyal lovers, both seeing a multitude of partners (she cheating on and ultimately leaving her partner of 3 years, Jonathan) and they are, initially, merely that to each other, another conquest. However, when Rebecca loses her job for sleeping with a patient, the two are brought closer together and so begins a clash of ambitions for their futures. Steve falls for Rebecca who is, however, looking to continue her more liberal lifestyle away from the L word, a word she forbids him to use.
The play canters along at a steady pace but never gains momentum enough to reach any peaks. The writing lends itself to moments of higher energy and more plunging moments of despair and hurt, but director Davey Kelleher chooses to neutralise them, leaving the show lacking in energy; our connection and intrigue with the characters wanes and the show slowly peters out rather than culminating in a potential crescendo. We’re not left asking questions or feeling one way or another for either of the couple, it simply gradually concludes.
However, the performances of both Samantha Michelle and Garry Mannion are of very high quality. Michelle portrays the contrast of lustful demand and saddened vulnerability with great skill, excellently playing moments with just a look and a pause. The scarred, frightened girl within the maturing woman was evident throughout. Mannion builds the character of Steve through the piece with great calm and progression, using timing and the space very well to bring out a considered and fine performance.
As Steve says, “There are no mistakes, only choices.” With some revision of choices, regarding pace and giving us more of an emotional journey through different levels and gears, this new writing from Cyd Casados could be a fantastic piece of theatre.