In a theatrical world governed by narrative and dictated by realism, it is a very brave and bold choice to create a piece of theatre rooted in the absurd and somewhat forgotten realm of surrealism, yet Colm Molloy’s ‘The Plains Of Delight’ prove that this is a challenge worth undertaking.


From the off we are thrown into the questions. Who are these bizarre two people in front of us? Why is she wearing weird glasses? And what the hell is that wind all about? But like a good piece of surrealist theatre, using classic age old devices, it manages to answer questions while posing new ones simultaneously, all while leaving space for the audience to create their own concept of the piece.


Our lonely couple Mac & Mona, played skilfully by Gary Cain and Laura Perry, are beautifully normal, they seem the classic ageing Irish couple, living away their days in blissful boring life, but all is not as it seems. Mac talks of a far off mountain with sun and life, yet we are surrounded by cans and a shopping trolley. As he recounts his story of their coming to be and their past over and over we can clearly see the coldness in his eyes and the lies behind the words. Mona relies on Mac and so he gives what he can. The parts were heartbreakingly played; Perry played her blindness subtly and with grace whilst Cain’s sincerity was un-matched.


The narrative really came to life with the introduction of Alfie, Bex Sian-Jane Evans and Jarry, Rish Shah. These two impossibly absurd characters burst onto stage with life and energy, bringing a younger more vibrant vibe with them. Yet all is not as it seems as we continue to discover. Shah was perfectly absurd, very artaudian in his performance, leaving us constantly asking what or who he was and his purpose. His solo moment at the end of the show was a particularly impressive show of skill if not a little jarring. Evans did a good job with a very difficult part, the part requires limitless energy whilst also darkness, which for the most part was beautifully done. However I personally feel the part needed to be a little more abnormal, we needed to see that she had been destroyed by this wasteland and that the normal process of human nature was somewhat lost to her.


The real stars of the piece though were the writing and direction. Colm Molloy’s script was intricate and full of subtext and life, the beauty of it was that I for one left thinking it was a fight between the current millennial culture vs the culture of old, beauty and peace and that the wind symbolised the winds of change, where as my partner decided it was a reflection on the loss of the Irish tongue. What makes Colm’s writing perfect is that it was all and more of these, it was a whirlwind of poetic writing, absurd drama and yet all rooted in normality. His direction was also well pitched and perfectly moulded around the characters, the choice for Mac and Mona to never stand was a perfect one, showing how rooted they are in their life, even in the face of extreme (and trust me when I say extreme) adversity. I felt it did seem to call upon Waiting For Godot, or at least in my opinion, a little heavily but any writer when tacking their first play will always have their guide-ropes and if this is play 1, I can’t wait for number 2!


Overall, ‘The Plains Of Delight’ is a brilliant evening of theatre, with well tuned direction, lovely performances and writing had the style and quality you don’t see in this genre very often, especially on the fringe. Well worth the trip to East Croydon. If your looking for something a bit different but equally enjoyable to see, get down to Theatre Utopia.




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