Meet Me At Dawn

by | Feb 19, 2024

By Adam Rafferty

On a coarse blue sand shore, studded with the wreckage of a house, reminiscent of the bow of a tall ship, two women wash up with a thud. So begins Scottish playwright Zinnie Harris’ tale of love and loss that poetically explores the way we humans like to bargain our way through moments of extreme emotion.

This is a powerful story with possibly triggering themes for anyone who has recently lost a loved one, but it also offers the potential for catharsis, as we witness the characters process what they’ve just been through.

Harris’ play is a modern interpretation of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a surreal limbo world that toys with reality. Queer couple, Robyn (Jing-Xuan Chan) and Helen (Sheridan Harbridge) have been involved in a boating accident, the result of which has left them stranded and awash with confusion over what to do next. The pair have the sort of conversational comfort of partners that know each other well, metering out caring comments and bickering snipes in simple measure as they try to determine what they should do next.

Without giving too much of the plot away, the key question raised here is one many of us may have asked ourselves. If you could have one more day with a lost loved one, what would you do with it?

Staging this kind of content requires the gamut of emotions from a cast, and both Chan and Harbridge compel with their grounded and beautifully observed delivery. Harbridge balances the intricate layers of comedy and pathos in a bravura performance, while Chan guides the audience through her stages of grief delicately and with a realness that never pushes too hard for sympathy.

Director Katy Maudlin has guided this production through those dangerous waters skilfully, ensuring there is no sense of attempting to manipulate an audience’s emotions, but rather to demonstrate grief in a way that is utterly truthful. This production is spare, but perfectly balanced. The set by Romanie Harper, is wonderfully other-worldly. Amelia Lever-Davidson’s lighting unobtrusively moves through states to emphasise Robyn’s narrative and Sound by Daniel Nixon expertly underscores the emotion.

At just 75 minutes long, Meet Me At Dawn creates quite an impact in a short space of time. It’s swift and savvy in its storytelling and is unexpectedly life affirming.

Image: Pia Johnson

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