Play: Pomona by Alistair McDowell

Play: Pomona by Alistair McDowell

Performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and directed by Ned Bennett

Pomona is a bleak and uncompromising look at life. It is a dystopian thriller set in the inhospitable  landscape of Pomona: an empty strip of wasteland which lies between Salford and Manchester. It is a black hole at the centre of the city.  The play centres on the search for lost people, who have disappeared or lost themselves, somewhere in the city. Pomona seems to be an area which is ignored no matter how unsavoury the events there might be.

The staging is as bleak as the story, with a metal grid at its centre. The action takes place in a series of staccato scenes, punctuated with blackness. They seem harsh and unconnected. The effect on the viewer is unsettling and jarring, like the story. There are numerous time lapses in the course of the action. My thought at the end of the play was that the narrative had been like a double helix, twisting from past to present and back again. As the M60 circled the city so the story line seemed to run on without a conclusion, looping back onto itself.

Throughout the play, some characters are playing a role playing game. It is difficult to know what is real and what is just part of the game. It is unclear whether the whole play is in fact one huge game.  Open to interpretation, it strikes one that each viewer will see a different play. Some may take it at face value that there are two twin sisters who are searching for each other, as I did. Others may think that there is only one girl.

In short: a unsettling  play which journeys to a vacuum at the centre of everyday life where unspeakable deeds are ignored  and disregarded.


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