THE SCOTSMAN REVIEW
21st August 2004
THINK of those small, nagging mental niggles - an estranged parent, perhaps, or a missed love. This is the world of Kathmandu - a place of demons and mental anguish.
Greg Freeman's play is textually, visually bold, exquisitely structured, and utterly compelling. Lizzie Clachan's simple, powerful set is a table on a round disc, over which hangs a heavy lamp, with red threads strung from it down to the disc: a webby cone of pained reminiscence. Characters sit inside, physically manifesting their particular demons by cutting up paper dolls, or self-harming, while figures from their self-conscious circle and engage them from outside. At each scene's break, their tormentor enters the cone, becoming tormentee.
Rosalind starts, channelling her childhood friend and sort-of step-cousin Owen. She is cajoling him to destroy a yapping dog that is ruining her new relationship. Owen will do anything, he's that in love with her. Then he steps in, to be harangued by Aunt Martha. Then Martha is engaged by recalcitrant husband Frank. Then Frank by abandoned daughter Rosalind. And around and around.
For the four, all roads lead to Kathmandu. Owen's parents died - or did they? - there; he wants to visit to find out the truth, and take his beloved Rosalind with him. Martha rescued Owen from there; Frank remembers that trip. The city becomes a mythical, unattainable Xanadu of healing. If only they could find the way there.
Ken McClymont's swirling direction is assured and brisk, perhaps a little too much so early on, when the narrative pieces are yet to fit together. His cast is strong, especially Olivia Busby as the heartbreakingly pained Rosalind, and Alex Hughes's virile, self-loathing Owen. The four need to slow down a touch, to let more of Freeman's poetry take effect.
THE STAGE REVIEW
In Greg Freeman's inventive and evocative new play, four people with holes in their lives take turns holding imaginary conversations with the missing. With frightening choices ahead of her, Rosalind falls back on memories of Owen, the one boy who loved her unquestioningly.
Owen can't get the criticising voice of Martha, the aunt who raised him, out of his head. Martha has not resolved her anger at Frank, the husband who deserted her. Frank, who later became Rosalind's father and abandoned her, wonders who and where she is.
As the stories and tangled relationships are explored, some secrets from the past are told but not always to the person who might most want to know them. In the end, character proves to be destiny, as those who were born to be responsible find themselves acting responsibly while the others succumb to the call of escape suggested by the title.
Ken McClymont's direction isolates a small area centre stage as the only real space, with the various memories and fantasies played out around it. He has guided his strong cast to draw the most out of this sometimes comic and frequently moving script. [Gerald Berkowitz]
Management: City Stages
Run time: 1hr 15mins