Space can define relationships. It evokes memory, provokes intimacy, and can force separation. Charlotte Hamblin’s new play, For Those Who Cry When They Hear the Foxes Scream, is about the seemingly profound act of sharing space with loved ones, and the troubling isolation when that shared experience is splintered.
It’s no wonder Hamblin chooses the stage to tell this story. In the small black box, she (playing A) and fellow actor Zora Bishop (playing B) are tightly fenced in by an all-white set, with paraphernalia along the periphery. Their relationship, devoted and enchanting, is also close-quartered. Yet due to an unnamed illness and failed immune system, A is unable to come into contact with anyone and is ostensibly quarantined by a lighted barrier around her bed. The tension between their closeness and the widening chasm between them is articulated in Charlie Parham’s visual direction, which maintains a tight space around Hamblin throughout.
Hamblin is a charged particle bouncing about her confined space. She is disturbingly hilarious, occasionally caustic, affecting and vulnerable. Her actions synchronize with her own text and her jokes, including a side-splitting Keira Knightley impression, seem as much Hamblin as they are A. Bishop’s B is endearing and nuanced, warm and steadfast even amidst her anguish. Together they succeed in establishing a bond of deep love that lingers in eye contact, that resonates through their rituals of games and repeated phrases.
Perhaps that’s where Hamblin hits hardest, at the rituals that stitch themselves into our relationships. Every visit B brings A an audiotape, and between scenes A listens to books by female writers, voiced by Miriam Margolyes. A and B’s echoed interactions, ‘There we are | There we both are’, show the tragic vacuousness of words in lieu of touch. They stand for intimacy but words are found wanting. Parham also emphasises ritual, with Bishop’s taking off her shoes as she enters each time, her changing clothes marking time.
The time lapse, however, doesn’t amount to much. The ending peeters out after a strong beginning and fails to extend its meaning beyond the confined white space. And while the play is strong in its characterization, this occasionally comes at the expense of its tempo. Hamblin isolates the complex and tragic relationship, and while external characters weigh heavily, there is a sense that they are untethered to the real world.
Hamblin’s For Those Who Cry has its voice, its own timbre, even if it is occasionally dampened. Coupled with antic | face, a company who seek to confront gender imbalance in theatre and make space for young talent, this production is admirable for its intricate portrayal of a relationship under trauma.
For Those Who Cry When They hear The Foxes Scream is on until 2nd July 2016. Click here for more information.