Aeonian, Etcetera Theatre, London ★½

Reviewed for The Reviews Hub:

Imogen is a ghost, of sorts. In the opening monologue in Vesna Hauschild’s new one-act play, Kat Boart implies that she was the mother to a famous Spanish artist – and her cries of “Salvador!” suggests which surrealist provides the inspiration here. Then again, Imogen also implies that she has been reincarnated at least once as a dog, so maybe not.

Imogen does find her son, Salvador – now himself reincarnated as a student named Warren, in a relationship with cruise ship dancer Mistral. Boart looms large as an unseen presence in the couple’s early scenes, the dysfunctional mother-son relationship clearly surviving death and reincarnation.

This initial setup seems to have much promise, potentially providing scope to explore parental relationships. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of thematic clarity on stage. As the couple under Boart’s melancholic gaze, Davey Seagle’s Warren fares the better of the two, not being saddled with the truculence that marks Marta Carvalho’s Missy.

As Missy and Warren face impending parenthood, Imogen looks forward to becoming their child. The pregnancy proceeds in a series of largely uninteresting vignettes, offering little in the way of enlightenment of the path of pregnancy. Having a grown adult play the growing foetus has potential, not least when Missy considers methods to terminate the pregnancy. But, generally, such opportunities are squandered, with neither actress able to convey much in the way of warmth or interest.

A coda suggests that this cycle of death and reincarnation continues down this family’s generations. The question why – indeed, any attempt to glean the merest sense of a message – remains elusive, though. Hauschild directs her own work as if it has more to say than it does, and the result is that what little it does say is lost to the wind.