Theatre review - Meet Me At Dawn

Anyone who has experienced grief will identify with Zinnie Harris’s imaginative take on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In Vigil’s version, Orpheus’ beloved wife dies, but he is allowed to enter Hades in order to retrieve her. Orpheus is told that on his way back to the world of the living he cannot look behind him or Eurydice will be lost to him for ever.

Harris’s version captures that fatal moment of looking back. Her lovers are two women, Helen (Jessica Hardwick) and Robyn (Marianne Oldham). One of them has died and they have been granted a day together to come to terms with their bereavement and abrupt separation.

Helen and Robyn wake on a beach. They have been in a boat accident but managed to swim ashore. Gradually, over an intense hour, it is revealed that one of them didn’t make it. As they try and piece together what happened they are forced to confront the various stages of grief from disbelief and anger to, finally, a kind of acceptance.

Murat Daltaban’s uncluttered production (a table, a chair, a reflective floor) keeps our focus firmly on the two actors. We are rewarded with pitch-perfect performances. Cem Yilmazer’s atmospheric lighting and Oguz Kaplangi’s terrific score complement Harris’ lyrical writing.

This fruitful creative collaboration with DOT Theatre Istanbul proves you don’t always need high end sets and a large cast to create something memorable. Meet Me At Dawn is a searingly beautiful portrait of love and loss. Not to be missed.

Running at Arcola Theatre until 9 November

Originally published by Camden Review