Festering grief destroys lives and marriage

Festering grief destroys lives and marriage

Robert Tanitch reviews Mayfly at Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Surrey

Mayflies hatch in the morning, mate in the afternoon, die at night. That’s it.

It doesn’t seem much of a life. But it’s amazing what can happen in a day and how much things can change. Each day is a little life.

The printed text of Joe White’s debut play is divided into three parts: Little Birth, Little Youth and Little Death.

Irfan Shamji in Mayfly - Credit Helen Murray

Irfan Shamji in Mayfly

The production, well cast and well directed by Guy Jones, lasts 105 minutes and is acted straight though without interval.

The action is set in the heart of Shropshire in May and there are just four characters.

Ben became a father at 17. He and his wife, Cat, had a son, Tom, and a daughter, Loops.

Tom died. He committed suicide. He hanged himself on a tree. His parents and sister have been grieving ever since. Grief has ruined their marriage.

On the anniversary of his death, what deeply distresses Cat (Niky Wardley) most is that she cannot remember what he looked like; and if she cannot see him, it means she has forgotten him and maybe he has forgotten her. She needs videos to remind her.

Ben (Simon Scardifield) thinks the family might be better off without him and he attempts to commit suicide. The play opens with him being saved from drowning by Harry.

Harry (Irfan Shamji) works in a pub which has been sold and he will be out of a job; and there are not many jobs these days for country boys. His mother went missing many years ago. For him missing and death is the same thing.

Robert Tanitch Mature Times theatre reviewerLoops (Evelyn Hoskins) wears her mother’s red dress, the very dress her mother had worn when she was conceived at a bus-stop. She also wears her dead brother’s military clothing camouflage.

Harry first met Loops ten years when they were teenagers in the same cadet camp. Will their reunion revitalize all their lives?

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