The Traverse and Greyscale Theatre Company present Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone, a charming and sensitive exploration of a parent to child relationship, written and directed by Selma Dimitrijevic, and assisted by Maria Crocker.
Based in Newcastle, Greyscale Theatre Company is an international theatre company, made up of those wishing to explore fringes and gaps in working styles. They “make powerfully live, political and anarchic theatre for a modern audience bored of being bored”. They aim to excite and engage audiences, who will invest in and enjoy their work.
Gods are Fallen takes us through phases of the relationship between Mother and Daughter, a lifetime of conversations, condensed into one hour – from comfortable predictability, to misunderstandings and tension, resentment, and then reconciliation and love. Through this played-out cycle, we see an exploration into human flaws, seeing both sides of the story; both parents and childs.
The performances were moving but understated. Joe Caffery and Max Runham (playing Mother and Daughter respectively) handled the text with subtlety and thoughtfulness. What is most accomplished about the performance is what is left unsaid. Partly due to the writing, and partly the performances, audiences are left bringing their own exeperiences to the conversations, being able to see themselves in either (or both) of the characters. The ‘gaps’ in the text is engaging, and ignites our curiosity about unsaid lines between the pair.
A bare set with simply a bench, and simple wash lighting allows the audience to focus fully on the dialogue and action without distraction. Intricacies of choreography and tiny details in the text are highlighted under the minimalist design by Oliver Townsend.
However, it is to be wondered why it was decided that genders would be swapped in All Gods are Fallen. The original script clearly states Mother and Daughter, and yet the Greyscale run presents two male actors. Dimitrijevic states that when casting the roles originally, two men shone in auditions. We are left to wonder if the piece would have been different if the relationship was of two women – an under-investigated relationship in theatre, even now. Perhaps the ability for the script to be between a son and father or a mother and daughter shows both the versatility of the writing, and the universal nature of parent to child relations.
That being said, it is disappointing to not see two women in such a focused piece, and for Greyscale to not utilise their aim of producing political and anarchic theatre, by diverging from the norm of the often male centric theatre world. While Dimitrijevic’s aim in turning the script on it’s head, and taking a look at sensitive and vulnerable male-to-male interactions is refreshing, it is frustrating to see the opportunity of having two powerful female voices taking centre stage wasted. In an attempt to counter this, Dimitrijevic has selected a mother and daughter pair from the local area at each tour location, in order to “not exclude a feminine presence”. While an interesting concept, there is a feeling that this should be pushed further. While our eye was sometimes drawn to the mother-daughter pair, their presence was not obvious or clear enough to make a definite statement about the reasons behind their being on stage. We are left not confident of their purpose, or what we are meant to gain from their performance.
Overall, however, Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone, is a charming and moving piece, with a strong cast and thoughtful portrayals. Caffery and Runham offer compelling and complex performances, and the writing is subtle and layered; we leave the theatre with a sense of melancholy and stillness, considering the real-life connections we have ourselves.
Greyscale are touring Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone throughout the UK until mid-June.