The Glow REVIEW: McDowall’s take on spirituality, a theatrical timebomb went off too soon

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    A woman enters with an oil lamp and speaks to a girl (Ria Zmitrowicz) crouching on the floor. She has been locked up in a Victorian asylum and the woman, Mrs Lyall (Rakie Ayola), is a renowned spiritualist who identifies the girl as a medium and takes her away to be her assistant. Thus begins Alistair McDowall’s intriguing play that reaches beyond time and space, gathering ideas on folklore, myth, regeneration and unearthly powers along the way.

    Given the name Daisy by her adopter, the girl possesses a supernatural agency capable of conjuring visions both physical and psychic. Later in the 20th Century, the same girl is renamed Brook and travels back and forth in time, encountering a variety of men who either threaten or protect her.

    While McDowall’s play is nothing if not ambitious the second half fails to fulfill the promise of the first. As years are flashed on the walls of Merle Hensel’s towering set – 500,000 BC, 1348, 1979 – the events become increasingly random, sometimes lasting only seconds.

    Whether Daisy/Brook is a metaphor for the female connective tissue between the eras or an immortal individual with powers beyond imagining – her hand glows with a mystical light – is never fully investigated and the temporal slippage becomes tiresome as a result.

    Vicky Featherstone’s production is better than the play deserves at this point (a few more drafts would have helped) but there is no doubt that McDowall is a dramatist of wild imagination and Big Ideas.

    His use of language shuttles between the brutally banal and the wittily arcane: “They cannot lock away a proven necromancer!” made me laugh out loud. Nonetheless, this is a theatrical timebomb that has gone off too soon. 

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    Published at Fri, 04 Feb 2022 00:01:00 +0000

    The Glow REVIEW: McDowall’s take on spirituality, a theatrical timebomb went off too soon

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