Review: Hannah

This locally-produced experimental play from Waxing Lyrical Productions is an enjoyable, if not sometimes perplexing exploration of life’s routines and the cyclical nature of addiction and love.

Hannah begins with the first of a few plunges into total darkness (both literal and metaphorical) in the Noel Lothian Hall. The eponymous Hannah (Krystal Brock), a personal trainer, is breathing heavily, almost panicking in her mind, and the lights come up. Her client Lilly (Temeka Lawlor) runs through and around the space as the audience sits in the round, very close to the action. Lilly finishes her quick routine and snaps Hannah out of her dark daydream to ask whether she should repeat the exercise.

Hannah flips into bubbly-trainer-mode to blast Lilly with some tortured analogies about exercise being like milkshakes or sundaes or fruit salads and things go on as normal. From here we progress through Hannah’s own daily routine, and learn more about the emotional and pharmalogical addictions that torture her.

Writer Liam Ormsby’s narrative strays from convention to dip into Hannah’s complex love life and history. Dropping crumbs of backstory and foreshadowing throughout, Hannah pursues romances with two men, Noel (a sympathetic Kieran McNamara) and Leon (a frightening Elliot Howard) and everything goes quite awfully wrong.

While dramatic, all of these characters not fully fleshed out, which leaves the audience to wonder whether they are too one-dimensional to be real, or if they are projections of Hannah’s own struggles. Noel and Leon’s inverse names and nature hint at this possibility too, as Lilly becomes more than a client to Hannah and the potential of murder rears its head.

Clever staging and direction from co-directors Ormsby and Toby Rice leave the audience feeling like intruders or voyeurs as they watch Hannah’s intimate and violent interactions with Noel and Leon. It’s creepy, but you just want to know more.

By the end, most questions are resolved, but there is plenty to ponder once the stage lights come up, and whether those patterns of symmetry, cycles and opposition are impossible to avoid in our own daily lives. Like the play’s name, it feels like Hannah’s story might be the same backwards as it is forwards.

Hannah was performed at Noel Lothian Hall on Thursday, February 22 and continues until March 2.

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