Rachel Bright’s unnamed character, inside her own home, tells us about the gators. We never quite know if these clawed creatures are ‘real’ within the context of Philip Ridley’s fictional universe, or whether they are much more metaphorical in nature, but we know they’re a threat. Red Bull in hand, Bright tells us about her Uzi to fight them off, and the times where they “go sweet” on humans, for it wasn’t always like this.
In the 18-minute speech, we see a sudden development in terms of Bright’s Londoner character. In the introduction, she talks with a kind of disdain or disbelief in what’s happening, before she comes more alert and visibly distressed – her eyes beginning to water but not quite spilling over – when her circumstances become more unsettling. In a sense, I didn’t see it coming. Even when speaking with a certain sincerity, the switch in pace under Wiebke Green’s direction from calm to fast is managed in a way which still happens to take us by surprise. What was initially an occasional swig of Red Bull becomes a series of several gulps to calm her nerves, the scene changes which they denote getting shorter and shorter as the situation progresses.
While the tempo of the piece and Bright’s performance make this an intriguing short monologue, the question about what exactly a gator is, as mentioned previously, isn’t quite answered, the backstory to the present dystopia the woman describes is hinted, but never fully explained (then again, when is it ever in an apocalypse-style scenario?)
When the person talks about a gator pursuing her and later, finds herself gaslit by her community about what she witnessed, I took it at first to suggest stalking, but the relationship between humans and gators seems a lot more complex – a mixture of love and hate – which doesn’t explicitly connect with any real-life situation. If anything, I only found myself connecting with the character’s decision to stay inside to protect against an outside threat. Whatever that may be, it’s told with the appropriate urgency and fear in this production.
Featured Image: Honey McKenna/Tramp.