A Night at The Citizens

I love the theatre. Mitchells Roberton kindly afforded me the chance to take my partner to the Citizens Theatre to see two plays by Caryl Churchill. This was my first time at the Citizens in about a year. The reception tonight was warmer than I remember, in part due to the rare appearance of the summer sunshine through the large glass ceiling.

The first play of the evening was entitled Far Away, a story set in a dystopian society, in three parts, each lasting around 15 minutes. Part one began as the large corrugated iron ‘curtain’ opens up to reveal a non-descript kitchen where two characters, an aunt and her niece, were speaking to one another. The atmosphere quickly darkens as the discussion alludes to the young niece’s discovery of her uncle’s apparent involvement in people trafficking. If this has you raising an eyebrow then part two, set in a hat making factory, is unlikely to reassure you. The two milliners in this scene are making hats for an upcoming parade: towards the end of this part there is a procession of anonymous prisoners, wearing the hats we have previously seen being made, walking towards the front of the stage. This scene is made even more sinister by subsequent reference to the ‘burning of the hats with the bodies’: I was left wondering if these prisoners could be the people who were being trafficked in part one. For me, part three was more baffling than the two preceding it. We are taken back to the same kitchen in which part one was set, where the characters speak about the ‘war’ and morality of the world, referring to different aspects of nature, from people to crocodiles to lazy grass. This intriguing play certainly stimulated some discussion during the interval: with almost everyone having different interpretations of what they had just seen.

After the interval, the chance to see Seagulls, a short play written some twenty five years earlier than Far Away. Seagulls, a more linear play, concerned one woman’s brush with the supernatural, a gift she has always had but only recently revealed to the world – her ability to move things with her mind. The play is set as this lady is making a public appearance to showcase her gift before she heads off to Harvard to become involved in scientific research. We see her interacting with her biggest fan, a strange young man. As their discussion ambled through her past, I got an insight into how she felt about her ‘gift’ and we learnt how it is that this power has been revealed to the world. As the story moves on, there is an uncomfortable wait as we see the lady standing in front of the audience attempting to use her abilities to entertain the gathered crowd but, alas, her powers appear to have deserted her.

I will stop here, as I do not want to reveal too much about what happened in the plays  – I would definitely recommend that you go and see them for yourself. Irrespective of what you take away from these plays, both certainly entertained and intrigued me. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!