nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
April 26, 2012
Mind The Gap—famous for producing high quality contemporary British theater in New York—presents Georgia Fitch’s Adrenalin…Heart. True love in Islington? A white single mother of two and a black man of Jamaican descent who has just finished school find each other.
Leigh (Mia Moreland) is sitting on a park bench relaxing after a long day’s work. Some kind relatives are looking after her two kids. Angel (Lain Gray) asks her for a light. Although she doesn’t smoke, he keeps talking to her and she finds him charming. He invites her to a party later, where they drink and he takes her hand. No one has held her hand in seven years. Although it takes some time for him to phone her, she runs to see him and they become involved. As Leigh remarks “The less you get out of something the more you do it—the more you chase it.” They go to the neighborhood pub (he says “yeah the boyz are playing and it kills two birds with one stone”), or to his place to smoke weed and eventually do speed.
Soon it’s ecstasy (“white man’s dandruff”) and eventually heroin. Happier than she can remember being, she later leaves her children in bed at home to go out and see Angel. Police activity in the courtyard of the housing estate shows her the vast difference in their lifestyles.
Angel, by now a drug dealer on the side, is the more relaxed one in the relationship. His casual attitude can be seen from his habit of asking women “do yu wanna go halves on a kid?” Leigh’s needs and mood swings overwhelm Angel. Her life is growing more complicated, she no longer goes to church, and her good mothering skills have vanished. Soon, she is in danger of losing her kids. Angel provides some philosophical commentary, invoking Freud to point out that all other addictions are man’s attempt to regain the pleasure of the primal addiction. Angel is by now proud that he prepares children for life by introducing them to drugs.
I very much enjoyed the amorality of this play. Perhaps it is easier to look at untruths and destructive behavior from a distance, even if British English is the exotic factor. I admit I needed to brush up on some of the Cockney references. Fortunately, in the theater lobby there is a bulletin board with helpful information. “Angel,” for example, is the name of a tube stop on the Northern Line. “Gold teeth smile” is any big grin, no gold teeth required.
Playwright Fitch skillfully shows us four sides of a relationship. This is done through interior and exterior dialogue. Director Paula D’Alessandris makes the piece come alive by contrasting the calm feel of what is spoken out loud with the turmoil inside. The end of the play is hinted at in the beginning. We then come full circle and realize that both characters have cyclical bad habits which keep leading them to each other. Moreland does a wonderful job of becoming discontented with her happy family life. Gray, forever in quest of a better life and believing he can take his time, is an impressive contrast.