Undertow delivers what the title promises. Your spirit will gradually be grasped and pulled under by surges of temper, confusion, despair, and frustration as our couple, played by Jasmine Fairbairn and Clayton Storey, navigate some stormy weather in their relationship.
Adding to the brittleness of our emotional plight, the couple’s initial interactions are saccharin sweet, bordering on gushy, puppy love, which doesn’t resonate with how a couple communicates after 20-odd years of marriage. Or so it seems. As the story develops and two unexpected events occur at the same time, the heaviness of the situation leads to a more grounded style of communication. Have we been played? There is no time to tell because once this tale warms up, you will be pushed and pulled like a stranded sailor clamouring for shore in choppy, swirling waters harbouring powerful undercurrents and rips. And just like that sailor, you will find yourself desperately gasping for breath between each new wave of emotional charge.
The simple set is put to good use, with a sofa becoming the arena in which our lovers engage and navigate the storms they encounter (and cause).
Amid this darkness, we glimpse truths, with Clayton’s character in desperation exclaiming, “I don’t want space, I want you.”
Again, if only “real life” couples could be so eloquent and poetic in the heat of the moment.
Undertow does eventually releases us and as we emerge from the theatre emotionally bruised and battered, there is a collective sense of gratitude that we have not endured that ordeal firsthand.