tue 29/11/2022

Cosy, Wales Millennium Centre | reviews, news & interviews

Cosy, Wales Millennium Centre

Cosy, Wales Millennium Centre

Powerful disquisition on ageing, death and womanhood

Getting cosy: Llinos Daniel, Ri Richards, Sharon Morgan, Ruth Lloyd and Bethan Rose Young

Kaite O’Reilly’s new play is a dark dark comedy, a Chekhovian family saga on a mainly bare stage that handles its subjects of aging, death and family with a rich and grounded intellectualism to be expected of the playwright’s work. The production itself skips lightly along the thin line that separates reality from a discomfiting dreamscape, the waiting room: everyone is waiting, for death, for life, for family members to arrive. It is an ominous comedy.

We are meant to believe that this is a family reunion – and the interaction of aged, unlikeable matriach Rose, her three grown-up daughters, and teenage granddaughter (not to mention Maureen, a carer of sorts) is written with a snappy wit – but it is just as easily a haunting, a memory. To this extent Cosy is a complex work that moves this simple family into the realm of Sartre’s coffee shop philosophers in his Road to Freedom novels – at one point the room hangs on the words “Iron in the Soul” as the lights go down, the alternative English title to Sartre’s Troubled Sleep, which might have worked as a title for this play too.

And on Phillip Zarrilli’s set with 10 crimson wing-backed chairs, the big themes are discussed: the sanctity of life, the mechanics as well as the morality of suicide, the aging process, femininity, feminism (and it is not so much that men have no part to play on this stage, but rather this is a world without them – their only function is to pass on life, and to pass on death, from way back in the wings).

Cosy seems to occupy the same world as Chekhov’s drawing rooms, and as Ibsen’s frustrated females. And yet at the same time Tiresias haunts the stage carrying her own blood in a bucket, while the homestead is less hearth-like than trance-inducing. The crimson chairs are manoeuvred about the stage, but always seem to end up in regimental rows as if awaiting Supreme Court judges to arrive to deny Rose control of her own body. Family reunions, one way or the other, always descend into judgement.

And it is in this one area that the play falls short: the drama of the piece does not quite see itself out. The philosophising wins, and the story crumbles – although that too, of course, is perhaps a reflection of life.

Sharon Morgan is regal as Rose; Ri Richards, Ruth Lloyd and Llinos Daniel are excellent as the sisters; Bethan Rose Young has perhaps the most difficult task as the precocious 16-year-old who seems to learn nothing in school other than enlightenment philosophy; but it is Sara Beer (pictured above) who steals the show as Maureen, a brilliant and disconcerting comic turn that from the off envelops the play in a sense of the otherworldly.

  • Cosy at Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff until 12 March
We are meant to believe that this is a family reunion but it is just as easily a haunting, a memory

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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