Sunday, July 14

Michaela’s Fluent Aphasia – Bush Theatre

This play’s tongue twister title is aptly representative of the confusion its performance elicits in audiences. The direction is uninspired and although not entirely difficult to follow, neither is it enticing enough to engender much investment in the play’s plot or characters.

The non-linear nature of Christina Carrafiell’s script most severely hampers this process and results in plot twists that feel like a dog chasing its own tail rather than a cohesive narrative unfurling. Individual scenes are punctuated with sharp, immediate, and absolute blackouts but despite the story featuring multiple shifts in time and place the elements of set and costume remain completely static.

The play’s cast of four is forced then to flutter around the playing field without any grounding context or characters coherent enough to grip onto. Michaela, written and performed by Carrafiell, is compelling in her distress but inhabits that emotion almost exclusively. The play’s other characters are similarly one-note despite being each overburdened with multiple parts in the mix. Jake Mavis plays Will, Michaela’s eager surgeon and secret lover, a role which requires heaps of charm to make plausible, and which Mavis imbues with a reluctant menace that makes him even more difficult to root for than the play’s confusing and confused lead actor.

Alexander Marks plays Theo, Michaela’s former fiancé and current speech therapist, who is also the boyfriend or ex to Delphi Evans’ Julia, Michaela’s fellow poet, panic attack sufferer, and psychiatrist. Although both Marks and Evans perform admirably this economy of casting does not excuse the jumble of storylines and relationships that confining the play to four roles makes necessary. Thrifty where it should be rich and meandering where it should be efficient, Michaela’s Fluent Aphasia never quite manages to get its point across.

Playing until 1st July.

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 17th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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