Meet Me At Dawn

Theatre, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
Meet Me At Dawn, Zinnie Harris
© David Monteith-Hodge / Photographise

Zinnie Harris's spin on the Orpheus myth comes to the Traverse as part of EIF

The Edinburgh International Festival makes a rare foray to the Traverse with ‘Meet Me At Dawn’, the second of three shows penned for this year’s festival by Zinnie Harris. If the first – her update on Ionesco’s ‘Rhinoceros’ – felt flimsy and rambling, then this is emphatically A Lot More Like It, a serious, intense study in love and grief that riffs loosely on the Orpheus myth.

Robyn (Neve McIntosh) and Helen (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) are a couple, who have found themselves shipwrecked on an island after capsizing a hire boat via their nautical incompetence. Helen is bursting with exhilaration at their survival while Robyn is shocked and sick. But they try to find the funny side of their situation. And they expect they’ll be gone soon, perhaps with the help of a mysterious third woman who is also on the island. But Robyn remembers a strange dream she had in which Helen died in the boat accident and she worries that none of this is real.

Orla O'Loughlin’s production is sombre and slow moving, a work about acceptance and letting go in the aftermath of tragedy that seeks to replicate some of the painful fog of grief. It is a treacly trudge through the bleakest of emotions – from bewilderment to horror to fury at the other for leaving. Harris’s writing is tender but unsparing: we can see how this is all going to end – but cruelly, so can Helen and Robyn.

The alluring magical realist chassis and fine performances from the buzzing Duncan-Brewster and collapsing McIntosh give it a bit of pep. But ultimately it’s a slog, and I guess it’s meant to be, a journey to an emotional underworld that few of us wish to visit but all of us will. An elegant articulation of the numbness of grief, if not always a hugely theatrical one.

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5 / 5

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1 person listening

This was a stunning play, performed superbly by both the leads and written extremely well... I actually did tear up a couple of times - which is not something that happens to me, ever. Wish I could go see it again!