It is easy to see in Strange Rocks how the conversational element of storytelling lends itself so well to online viewing. When a struggling writer stumbles across a woman’s body on the beach, he doesn’t call the police. Instead, he brings her home and lays her on the kitchen table in his cottage. And that is when things get interesting.
Written by Oliver Emanuel and performed, on a very simple set, by Ashley Smith and Simon Donaldson, Strange Rocks is part of Mull Theatre‘s digital series Emergence. The narrative begins with the woman’s own story interspersed with the man who found her. The two threads eventually combine when her body washes up on shore. As a loner, he defends his ‘love for nature’ and ‘need for solitude’ as the reason for him cloistering on a remote Scottish island. But is it really just that simple? As the second half unravels, the audience is taken on a journey of possibility. Each character explores the various possibilities that their lives could take from here on, and a wide range of unfinished businesses emerge.
This is a play about the fragility of desires and the motivation to go on living. It is also about an artist’s struggle with their inner self. In all these themes, the storytelling and the narrative succeeds. But the limitations of the set mean that one could be forgiven to tune out a little bit sometimes. Nevertheless, both Smith and Donaldson deliver great performances, with one standout moment being Smith’s declaration that life is futile. The music, composed by Simon Liddell, is also excellent.
From a small multi-arts organisation, Strange Rocks is a fine piece of theatre, perfect for curling up with on a quiet evening.
Emergence (Strange Rocks and Undocumented) is available to watch here.