EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

My Eyes Went Dark

at Traverse Theatre

* * * - -

Tense airline disaster two-hander with geo-political undercurrents

Image of My Eyes Went Dark
Photo: Sally Jubb

Matthew Wilkinson’s play is a brittle, fractious two-hander about a man hellbent on resolution following the death of his wife and infant children in a plane disaster. The staging is bare bones: four powerful beams shooting white or red light from each end of a traverse stage, two chairs and nothing else, save an occasional illuminated grave shape centre stage.

The drama unfolds in short scenes. Cal MacAninch is always in the role of protagonist, Koslov; Thusitha Jayasundera in the guise of a different character almost every time – Koslov’s wife, a prison psychologist, a young relative, a representative of the airline. For this reason, the dawn of each new scene brings puzzlement. With no costume signifier and inconclusive changes in voice and body language, it can take several exchanges to grasp who Jayasundera is. It works well with the tone and mood of the piece but requires faith on the part of the audience.

Koslov is an architect from the troubled Russian region of Ossetia, whose family died over Switzerland while on their way to visit him in a project in Nice. While there’s no attempt to introduce a pan-European array of accents, the geo-political undercurrent is clear, if niche. Part of Koslov’s character is assumed to be culturally inherited – Ossetians being tough, proud men who like to settle scores brutally and decisively.

Both actors are subtle, considered performers. MacAninch’s soft-spokenness can erupt volcanically, but elsewhere his style gives him a measured, frosty demeanor that suits Koslov. Jayasundera is versatile, but her subtlety doesn’t help with tracking the characters.

My Eyes Went Dark is a particularly stark affair which would have a natural home in some of the more esoteric black box venues of the Fringe. As such, it’s not an obvious for the Trav in Festival Season, but provides a tense, psychological counterpoint to some of the more upbeat fare.