An unnamed woman walks into a hotel room where a man sits in the dark, looking out the window. He’s expecting her, but who is she to him? Who is he to her?
Martin Dockery’s play, rather than answering these two simple questions, uses them as a launchpad to rip apart audience perception of reality. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Is this pair role playing? Are they a couple? Or have they not met before this moment?
These questions are never answered and even more arise as the story progresses. But rather than becoming a muddled mess, the plot spirals around itself with surprising precision. Though consistently ambiguous it’s not a shortcoming in this case. There seems to be a formula at work, but it’s too complex to decipher and masked with variations on textual motifs.
Like the story, the relationship between the two characters is constantly evolving. Vanessa Quesnelle’s character begins with the upper hand, a consummate professional who always maintains control. Dockery, the man, is initially stand-offish and closed. Their emotional life blooms almost imperceptibly, and they respond to each other with spontaneity and truthfulness. The only performance niggle is some miming that distracts from the world of the play.
This is a destabilising work that continuously requires the audience to alter their expectations, but one constructed with thought and care. Excellent performances enrich the story rather than fight with it, and both the script and the actors exude sophistication and nuance.