Stefanie Preissner (and we will remember it’s Stef with an ‘f’) may rhyme the word ‘chaotic’ with ‘antibiotic’, but with good reason, as it turns out.
Accompanied by Jo Linehan’s bang-on cymbal smacks and bass drum beats, Preissner stiffens her tracksuit collar and thumps out the first round of whiter-than-white rap (something about her father walking out when she was a baby) to a slightly baffled group of us theatre-goers. One couldn’t help but wonder whether the remaining 70 minutes of the play were as blatantly and distractingly sing-songish. And then the story began, albeit in rhyme.
One by one, stanza by stanza, the three speakers gradually unravel the fine threads of an intricate, poignant and mesmerizing narrative about love, birth, betrayal, regret and death. The effect is one of mild hypnosis, whereby the rise and fall of (less noticeably rhyming) emotion in the characters gently carries you along, every measure of the way.
Preissner possesses the kind of stage presence that calls for unblinking attention, while Gene Rooney’s pitch-perfect performance displays a fine authority of pace and tension. Tara Derrington’s direction must be commended for achieving the very opposite of what a play ‘through rap and rhyme’ invoked in me: a pleasant surprise.