‘Twenty-four years ago, the future was going to be different. Molly (Abi Titmuss) was going to be happy; older and smarter and married with kids. Ray(Paul Blair)was going to be a heart-surgeon’.
Written by Stephen Belber and directed by Steven Atkinson, ‘Dusk’ is staged on a Jetty surrounded by grassy reeds and the play seems to work quite well in this setting, however the pace was only a gradual momentum, which gave quite a static feel. Beginning the play was a particularly unengaging monologue by the character Molly, which did not bode well for the remainder of the performance; so in this respect, my expectations were not disappointed. I felt that this was a fault of the performance, rather than the play’s script and I would attribute it to weak casting and directing, as Titmuss was overshadowed by Blair in this duologue. Her American accent was meagre, her tone of voice was winey and monotonous, and she didn’t master the comedy in the script very well. On the flipside, Blair’s characterisation was more natural and gave a warmer vibe which was unusual and ironic given his character’s past as a criminal involved with a gay hate crime. This sinister interpretation of the character dynamics suited the plot narrative, as when the truth of Ray’s crime is unearthed, the two are drawn closer together, unified through passion.
The plays questioning of fate and impulse is at times explicitly communicated through monologues, like the memorable line ‘he’s so hyperintensly inside me’, which is in keeping with the opening line of the play ‘I’m not one of those people who has difficulty communicating’, but this speech was a clear paradox of Titmuss’ stage presence, or lack thereof. Despite the awkward actor compatibility, the dialogue was undoubtedly stronger than the lengthy monologues, and there were powerful moments, although I had the distinct impression that it was a long way off the mark for the play’s full potential.