You may know Marina Carr, you may think you know her work… But, have you ever heard of Low in the dark, written by Carr in 1989?
I didn’t. So, when I was invited to a staging of this play by Squad Theatre Company I had absolutely no expectations but rather decided to remain open to whatever theatre had to offer.
Staged in a cozy far from traditional venue – The Mart (in Rathmines) – the play had an out of ordinary plot and structure. It comes as no surprise that Marina Carr is one of the greatest of modern Irish playwrights. Doubtlessly, she has the skill and ability to create interesting and watchable characters. But it all makes it the harder for the theatre company to produce the play up to a certain standard and quality, to bring to life those characters and make the story appealing to the audience. Squad Theatre Company accepted the challenge and absolutely smashed it.
For the Squad Theatre Company Low in the dark by Marina Carr is the first staging of a published work. The director of the piece – Romana Testasecca – definitely had a certain vision of the play and Carr’s creations. The finely sharpened characters are recognised from the first seconds of the play.
Low in the dark is a truly universal play. It has a total number of five characters, it can be set anywhere any time. In a quite elaborated set design (by George Reeves), we witness the tale of Bender (played by Polly Lloyd) and Binder (played by Norma Howard). Presumably mother and daughter, they spent all their free time conversing in a bathroom and reliving their past encounters with men, all of whom are now long long gone. The tale of Baxter (played by David Greene) and Bone (Aaron Shiel) are very similar to that one of the women. Gender challenged (or confused) they are building a wall, while wearing high heels, eating cupcakes and getting pregnant… but, they too, are living in the world of a strange mixture of memories and imagination. The last but by no means least character is The Curtains (played by Julia Stipsits), a faceless and, presumably, genderless creature whose purpose is to tell the story of the man and the woman.
Low in the dark is a play that rediscovers and rethinks the nature of the gender and relationships. It’s also a play in which anything can happen, even the unexpected. Even the unexplainable. Even the unthinkable.
With a mood-setting soundtrack (by Michael Moloney and Kevin McLeod), superb acting and strong directing, Low in the dark is a surreal piece that doesn’t require deep understanding or possesses a profound meaning but rather offers you to keep an open mind and be welcoming to unorthodox ideas.
Huge kudos to the Squad Theatre Company for embarking on such a difficult (in a good sense) play and choosing it as one of their very first professional productions. All the cast and crew were outstanding and made the characters jump alive out of Carr’s pages. The venue only contributed to the whole atmosphere of being in a non-traditional space and time.
Low in The Dark runs in The Mart Rathmines until August 6th. Catch it before it flies away. For more info or to book tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/low-in-the-dark-by-marina-carr-tickets-26291575811