The bunker theatre is buried in an unused car park, mysteriously hidden away on Southwark street. With a winding and sloping entrance, the audience are met by friendly staff members who welcome all into this new venture. The vibe is laid back within the theatre, filled with a range of chairs and lamps, which emulate someone’s sitting room rather than a theatre.
The set is in the centre of the room, open and lit, while the audience filters in the hour prior to the beginning of the play. The set, designed by Max Dorey, is stacked with copious amounts of boxes, of various sizes and shapes; leaving the audience curious and questioning what those boxes contain and how they will be incorporated into the story. There is an air of mystery as the audience mumble and whisper about what to expect, which added to the overall experience of this production, managed by James Anderton.
The fragmented two-hander Abigail, written by award winning playwright Fiona Doyle, tells a fragmented story of a relationship between an unnamed man and woman. It becomes apparent very early on that this relationship is a turbulent and tormented one; and as the story unravels, so do the characters. The story hops back and forth in time to different events in the relationship, which leads the audience to continually deduce their own conclusions throughout, in an attempt to predict the ending and the dark secrets that the characters held. Abigail is cleverly written, with deep, dark layers.
Tia Bannon and Mark Rose are the man and woman in this fast-paced production, which convincingly conveys this tempestuous relationship. The dialogue is highly emotive, with continuous scene changes demanding altering characteristics throughout. Bannon and Rose skilfully move from scene to scene, continually connected through movement and gaze. I was expecting the stereotypical stylized movements in between scenes, but each transition, with costume change and prop changes were in real time, with careful and flawless movements.
The scene transitions were meticulous and conscientiously directed, which felt crucial to the story and giving the audience a chance to create their own reality for the couple; and deduce where their complex story would eventually end. The lighting, designed by Christopher Nairne, and sound by Andy Josephs, played a crucial role in scene changeovers and setting, quickly transforming the energy of a scene change with sensory orchestration.
The production was directed by Joshua McTaggart, who is also one of the founders and artistic director of The Bunker Theatre. McTaggart did an impressive job in staging this sharp, alternative, fresh and effective production.
Abigail is complex, and leaves you piecing the story together long after the lights go down; musing over words and actions that may hold a different meaning to you in the light.
Abigail runs at The Bunker Theatre until the 4th of February. See here for tickets.