21 April 2019
Grace Patrick wants to keep talking about TANYA
Maybe as you get richer you also get more horrible? Maybe? I don’t know if that’s true. It feels sort of true, as if the shinier something gets on the outside the more rotten it becomes on the inside.
Equally, however, maybe some people are just horrible. Horrible to the extent that they’re actually really, really funny, in a noticeably grim way. They’re not funny because they’re funny. They’re funny because I feel a sort of repulsion towards them and their meaningless world, and there’s definitely a sort of morbid fascination in watching it crumble into dust (or glitter). I can’t lie, this play took a minute to click for me. I spent much of it feeling unsure of how I was supposed to respond to these characters, and unsure of the extent to which the text recognised its own absurdity. As soon as the lights came up, however, another Noises Off writer turned to me and immediately identified it as a dark satire.
For me, I actually think this was the closest I came to a lightbulb moment all week; the glitter and the dance sequences and the confetti all fell into place. Yes, we’re allowed to laugh at them, and we’re allowed to be horrified by them. Disgusted by them. Whatever. It feels a lot like accepting your moral high ground (assuming you haven’t killed your best friend by hurling them into a sink), and then making use of your ability to actually pass judgement on people our world often counts as untouchable. Turns out, holding unspeakably rich people to a basic standard of morality is actually quite gratifying.
The thing that disturbed me most in TANYA was essentially everything Fionn Creber did while playing Eugene.
It was genuinely really, really disturbing for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t see it coming. For the first few minutes he comes across as full of himself but manageable, right up until the other shoe drops.
Second, Eugene as a character doesn’t even seem to realise. His misogyny and self-absorbency go unchecked because he’s just not aware that they’re there. That final monologue, alone in the middle of a wrecked stage, will stay with me for a long time because it was just so unnerving. I know I’m not alone in this, because more or less every woman I’ve spoken to about that moment expressed repulsion, anger, and/or nervousness. He seriously tapped into something easy to miss but impossible to escape.
NSDF is technically over now, but I’m still absolutely intrigued by how much this specific show divided opinion, and I want to talk to people about it. Please, get in touch and give me your thoughts. I’m so curious to understand the remarkably wide spectrum of response.
I think this is a show that’s going to stick with me for a while, and that it’s going to be one I’ll find myself comparing other work to in the future. It’s exciting to find those cornerstones, and I’m excited to see where these creators go in the years to come.
Get in touch with Grace about TANYA on Twitter @GracePatrick20.
Photo credit: Beatrice Debney