I wanted to move from the city to a more isolated country life ‘To completely consume my husband’s attention’, pronounces our unnamed protagonist. It doesn’t work. Her husband still returns to the city for work and she is left alone, with two children and surrounded by her ‘nosy bitch’ neighbours. One flicker of hope in this newly depressing existence is a lady called Caroline, around whose tragic death the plot revolves.
The protagonist’s obsessive need to control her surroundings, her children, her husband, manifests itself in ever more fervent and elaborate list making. This intricately layered personality, with all its melancholy, obsession, desperation, guilt and humour tinged cynicism is embodied by the magnetic Maureen Beattie; her piercing blue eyes revealing the sadness of a woman consumed by guilt, delicately glazed with denial.
As Beattie embarks on her wonderfully delivered monologue, subtle lighting design is used well to reflect the changing mood of the piece; the passage by candlelight proved particularly moving. The set is similarly simple but used brilliantly to allow the performance to be delivered on multiple levels. In a moment of anguish, Beattie’s desperation propels her forward and up onto a table, bringing her face to face with the audience who sit on raised, lecture theatre seating.
The List is wonderfully done, stripped back to the bare bones to reflect the desolate state of the protagonist’s life. The sense of loneliness explored in the script is one that everyone can identify with, making the experience all the more powerful, and eliciting from the audience a sense of sympathy for the tortured character.
This one woman show is a touching piece, written well and designed beautifully, but it is the superb performance by Beattie that really elevates it.