Chris Cannell reviews Dominic Kimberlin’s We Long Endure which went up April 26th and 27th in the Barron Theatre.
As the programme attests in its first line, Dominic Kimberlin’s St Andrews writing and directorial debut We Long Endure, is a mighty ‘weird play’. This is not ‘weird’ in a classic, abnormal, sense, it’s a ‘weird’ that emanates from the tradition of the ‘wyrd sisters’ of Macbeth fame who are an already existent part of the thane’s psyche, it’s a weirdness of levels and of observation. Such it is with We Long Endure, with every weird character representing a fraction of a human psyche; or at another level an element in Daoist cosmology; or a specific thematic concern of the writer; or… but I digress. Kimberlin’s writing of the play is so fruitcakey, dense and rich, that any attempt made to understand it will either glance off or shoot to its heart and destroy others’ enjoyment of the production.
The weirdness started off with the literature on offer on the Barron seats. As well as the above programme, a flyer picturing one of the actors and their character name, an element, was provided. On the back of this was a key, detailing the Daoist attributes of five elements (fire, water, earth, wood, and metal) which could be used as a guide to the various characters and their traits. Each character represented a certain theme that was both divorced and related to their character. The excellent Mattia Mariotti, as Wood, questioned the use of capital on nature through a well-acted schizophrenic monologue on dance music. Mandarr Brandi gave a sterling and witty performance as Fire, who was in love and sober as a self-aware authorial voice. Josehphine Wolfe played, again, to strengths exhibited in Six Characters in Search of an Author as the Ophelic Water. Then waifish Earth, played by Adryon Kozel, was the centre, disappearing, being abused, at one level, in a bedroom drama with Metal, Constantin Popov, impressively exhibiting traits and tics of the director portrayed in the show’s trailers.
Direction was, on the whole, very tight with a strong aesthetic sense lent by fantastic lighting work, a sparse set, interesting costume and makeup choices. Also of note was the melodious original music by Vahan Salorian that set an indefinable but evocative atmosphere. This was adequately complemented by the writing, even if at times it was unnecessarily expositional, and the acting, at times, over-reliant on break-outs of hysteria and emotional dichotomy. This could have been a product of the Daoist fascination with dichotomy present in Dominic’s work, ying and yang. This may be the point: that people will either love the play’s weirdness, or really not. Either way, throw yourself into the discussion, and let the weird of the sisters, elements and characters, charm or appal you.
Photo credits go to Helen Miller and Dominic Kimberlin