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Review: The Anatomy of a Bath Mat

Anuli Changa enjoys the interesting writing and direction of Will Vincent’s play, part of the Drama Society’s MIFTA season 2018

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Not strictly about bath mats or anatomy, this multi-layered play written and directed by Will Vincent follows Elliot (Evie Appleson), a writer, on a superficial soap opera that her boss refuses to accept complicated writing for. When Elliot meets the mysterious Alessandra (Chloë Slater) she’s given the opportunity to go in a different direction, an escape from the mundane – but will it be any better?

The Anatomy of a Bath Mat had a mixture of monologues, conversation, and a thoughtful use of repetition that echoed both the monotony of modern life and the circle Elliot was caught in. It was heightened by impressive movement, directed by Kat Humphrey, including the ensemble simulating waves, executing montages and lifts.

Appleson was a powerful presence as Elliot, very expressive and engaging throughout. There was a clear contrast between her exaggerated environment and her own presence, which had a decidedly existential air.

Ayden Brouwers, playing the strong and often silent Stevie, was another standout performance, displaying real ability to portray clearly identifiable feelings and opinions with little or no script. This was a difficult role and one which I found the most endearing, as Stevie attempts to hold together and mend all the relationships over the course of the play.

Writer One (Megan Shone) and Writer Two (Scarlett Spicer) had great chemistry as the writing pair that intrigued, with their relationship as life-long friends, romantic partners, or some hybrid of the two. These two characters provided comical moments, such as Snapchat filters created with props like dog ears and flower crowns. But, they also added a further representation of how quickly people tend to dispose of others. Their names were mentioned once and not remembered, and they were used as objects instead of people.

The realisation that Elliot has been physically and emotionally abused by her partner Max was dealt with powerfully and sensitively by Appleson. The abusive relationship was realistically alluded to for the remainder of the play, in that no one ever said the word ‘abuse’ and seemed to care more about their own guilt for not noticing ‘the signs’.

However, I feel that this story line was unnecessary to an already impressive and engaging play. The narrative mainly focussed on clashing ideas about life and treatment of objects and people and did so more than successfully without this plot point.

The bath mat was a metaphor for many things throughout the play, both overt and covert. It seemed at times to represent people who’ve been sullied in some way by life experiences and left to feel insignificant. Or else, the bath mat was there to represent all the moments not made important and appreciated in human life which perhaps should be.

This play was a triumph in interesting writing and direction, made unusual by its marrying of choice physical theatre and clever exaggerated characterisation. It reconsiders the often dismissed and insignificant moments of life and rethinks how we label the world around us.